There’s been a lot of discussion of Paul Strauss in the local blogs lately, going back to his arrest for DUI back on 1 October. The City Paper has news of his hearing this morning, and Anthony Marenna at Metblogs wants his head on a plate.
He’s just been re-elected to serve a third term as DC’s Shadow Senator, by a pretty secure margin.
So, the questions that are out there seem to be:
1) Strauss should be talking to the press about this, right?
Well, yes and no. It’s a representative’s job to talk to the public about his or her policy stances, and to account for his or her behavior when representing the office. It’s also a representative’s job to be a public figure. But, see, here’s the thing. Strauss is a lawyer, by profession. And what is it lawyers say about talking to the media or to the police? That’s right: Don’t.
It just doesn’t make sense. Make a simple statement, and then make your defense in the courtroom where it actually matters. Leave the media out, and let the courts do their job.
2) So, what happens if he’s convicted?
This is the one that I’ve not seen discussed anywhere. There is a Recall Process in DC, and it requires the signatures of 10% of the registered voters in DC, or 42,676 names, plus a formal filing of those names, and then a recall election within 114 days. The result of that election, should it be for the recall, would result in the replacement of the Shadow Senator by a fiat process, details of which I can’t find. The regs in specific say, “and the office is filled as provided by law until a subsequent special election may be held to fill the remainder of the official’s term.” But there’s 114 days until a Special Election can be called and a new Shadow Senator can be named.
3) Does a political figure owe it to the public to explain what’s going on?
Well, again, yes & no. Same reasons as in #1. Political figures have their personal liability to think about. Speaking to the press in that situation is highly unwise, and Strauss knows as much as a lawyer. Openness isn’t always your friend.