New Ethics Rules Leave Congressman Grounded
Minnesota is a big, spread-out state, and Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson's district covers 35 counties. He's found his Beech Bonanza beats out any other way to travel, but new ethics rules have left him grounded. "It's a pretty stupid deal," Peterson, 62, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune. House officials have said the new rules are intended to limit the use of private jets by members of Congress, but don't apply to members who fly their own airplanes. However, Peterson said the Ethics Committee has a different interpretation, and until it can all be ironed out he can't fly his Bonanza. "They didn't know anything about airplanes, the people who were writing this [new legislation], and they didn't talk to me," Peterson told the newspaper. "I threatened to put in a bill to make it illegal for any member to drive their own car until we got this fixed. And I told Nancy Pelosi that if she didn't get this fixed, I was going to quit and there was going to be a Republican in my place, that if I couldn't fly I wasn't going to do this anymore." The Congressman is getting some local support. A Star-Tribune editorial on Tuesday said, "[This] appears to be a case of common sense gone mad." The editorial says applying the ethics rules to private pilots would significantly handicap rural congressmen, like Peterson, who represent large districts. "Lawmakers who have private pilot licenses are providing a service to their citizens by maximizing their schedules when needed," the editorial concludes.