Mr. Wynn's Ignoble Exit

Sunday, March 30, 2008

REP. ALBERT R. Wynn, who was resoundingly defeated in his bid for a ninth term in Congress representing Maryland's 4th District, has decided to leave office not with a bang but with a Bronx cheer. Rather than serve out the term to which he was elected in 2006, Mr. Wynn, who lost in a Democratic primary last month, is thumbing his nose at the people he serves by quitting seven months before the completion of the 110th Congress.

The reason for Mr. Wynn's premature departure is plenty clear: M-o-n-e-y. Instead of continuing to labor for a Congress member's paltry salary of $169,300, he has signed up as a lobbyist for a spiffy Washington law firm, in whose employ he will presumably multiply his wages.

In announcing that he will resign in June, Mr. Wynn left it to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to decide whether to hold a special election or leave the seat unfilled until the next Congress convenes in January. He also stuck his constituents in Prince George's and Montgomery counties with a lose-lose dilemma. If the governor does call a special election, it will saddle county and state taxpayers with a bill that could run upward of $2 million. If he does not call a special election, the district's residents will have no voice in the House of Representatives for more than half a year. Either way, Mr. Wynn has done his constituents a disservice and demonstrated contempt for the legislative body to which he was elected.

In addition, by leaving a two-month gap between his announcement and his departure, Mr. Wynn marooned himself in an ethical swamp of his own making; it is hardly inconceivable that he will face votes on issues in which his future employers, or clients, will have an interest.

In a statement, Mr. Wynn said it was a "great honor" to have served the 4th District, a noble sentiment that his actions flatly contradict. If any of his constituents were wondering whether they made the right choice in voting to dump Mr. Wynn in the Democratic primary, his contempt for public service should set their minds at ease.

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