"We have a lot of beleaguered middle class people just like myself," said Republican senatorial nominee Alan L. Keyes last zTC week at a press conference. But Mr. Keyes' definition of "middle class" is unusually broad: He puts himself in that category despite the $102,000 annualized salary he's taking from campaign contributions and his speaking fee of $3,500 per appearance.
Without this $8,500 monthly stipend, Mr. Keyes claims his family would be "turned out in the street" from a four-bedroom home in Montgomery County. Yet only a few weeks ago, Mr. Keyes said he was reconsidering his acceptance of this campaign largess because of the bad impression it made with voters and supporters. Now he's changed his mind because doing without this stipend would create an "undue hardship."
Many candidates face financial hardships when they run for political office. It comes with the territory. Mr. Keyes knew that when he ran for the Senate back in 1988. He also knew of the financial hardships when he gave up his $150,000-a-year job to campaign for the U.S. Senate again this year against Sen. Barbara Mikulski. His cries of impoverishment don't evoke much sympathy.
Draining funds from what already is an underfinanced campaign against a well-fortified incumbent raises serious concerns about Mr. Keyes' real motives for running. It also focuses public attention on Mr. Keyes' annualized $102,000 campaign salary instead of the issues. And it is disingenuous for a candidate to solicit cash contributions from political supporters only to turn around and use the money not to campaign for office but to help make personal house and car payments.
We think Mr. Keyes made a mistake in deciding to continue this lucrative monthly salary. The practice may be legal for the moment, but it sets the wrong tone for the Republican nominee's campaign for the U.S. Senate.