The Boston Globe reported last week that in 2009 Jeanne Shaheen's husband became an adviser to a breast cancer research firm named Ultrawave Labs, which that same year received $78,000 in federal stimulus funding Shaheen voted to approve. The Globe's implication was that because Bill Shaheen held Ultrawave stock options, Shaheen's family was profiting from her votes on federal funding.
The Shaheens did not help themselves by refusing to answer any questions regarding the story. Shaheen should have recused herself from voting on the stimulus bill because of its funding of Ultrawave. She will have to answer for the consequences of that vote. But it seems to us that the real issue here is Shaheen's willing participation in the pay-for-play scheme that is the federal appropriations process.
Shaheen believes it is her job as a U.S. senator to distribute taxpayer money to activities she favors. Funding for breast cancer research? Sure, here are tens of thousands of dollars. Funding for "green energy?" Sure, here are tens of millions of dollars. But the companies that receive this taxpayer-financed support are inevitably the best-connected ones, like Solyndra, or Ultrawave.
Shaheen complains about big-money influence in politics while engaging in the very behavior that encourages companies to hire lobbyists and senators' spouses to obtain the connections necessary to access federal money. This is crony capitalism - and Jeanne Shaheen is one of the cronies.