During last night's Democratic Debate, Lincoln Chafee claimed one of his qualifications was a lack of scandals in his career.
I’m very proud that over my almost 30 years of public service I have had no scandals. I’ve always been honest, I have the courage to take the long-term view and I have shown good judgment. I have high ethical standards.
But that isn't entirely true! While serving as mayor of Warwick, R.I., before joining the U.S. Senate, Chafee came under fire from the Providence Journal (via the Chicago Tribune) for using public funds to buy frogs for his office aquarium because in Rhode Island, even the scandals are small:
And there is the issue of the frogs. The Providence Journal recently reported that, while mayor of Warwick, Chafee maintained a $6,000 slush fund in the city's $204 million budget, which he used to buy four frogs for his office fish tank.
Chafee also bought toys for city workers' families, theater tickets, and wine, and made donations to charity. Launch the congressional inquiry!
Of course, that's exactly what happened. During his Senate campaign against Robert Weygand, state Democratic operator Michael Woods, the brother of conservative actor James Woods, called for an investigation into the "frog fund" according to the Tribune:
Chafee called this "grandstanding" and charged Weygand with "taking the low road" by spreading reports of the frog fund. He also said his two Democratic predecessors in the mayor's office had similar "discretionary funds" and that he was the first to make the expenditures public.
While making such a move publicly (and thus opening himself up to "frog fund" zingers), Chafee displayed those ethical standards he claimed to have in last night's debate. But no scandals? Hardly.
The "frog fund" was, as you can guess about something as silly as a "frog fund," a non-issue with voters. He won election to the Senate in 2000 (after being appointed a year prior to his deceased father's position) and served another term before running for governor. Rhode Island voters like Lincoln Chafee, (single) wart and all.
He also admitted to using cocaine a few times when he was younger, and he worked at a racetrack for a while. But considering who he's going up against, we'd say Chafee's frog fund problems won't be what causes his campaign to croak.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: email@example.com