Show David Keene the door

davidkeeneThe American Conservative Union and The Hill newspaper should fire David Keene — quickly.

The ACU’s executive veep, Dennis Whitfield, should go, too.

According to Politico, the two have been caught red-handed in a pay-for-play scheme asking FedEx for more than $2 million in exchange for the ACU’s support in the shipping company’s fight with UPS and labor unions.

In a letter from the ACU to FedEx, Whitfield offers a long list of services the organization had to offer. The list clearly shows that the ACU is for sale. What’s more disturbing, after FedEx declined, Keene and the ACU came out in favor of UPS’s position.

The statements from the ACU since the story broke don’t clear things up, nor do they answer the accusations. As Ed Morrissey notes:

Whitfield calls the Politico story “false,” but note that he never denies writing the letter to FedEx that promised that Keene would write supportive columns for FedEx’s position if they paid the ACU more than $2 million.  That’s not “receiv[ing] support from individuals and organizations,” that’s selling a service.  It certainly left FedEx with the impression that they could buy Keene’s public support, and when he acted (either as an individual or as head of the ACU) to oppose their position after FedEx declined to cough up $2 million, it looks a lot like Keene decided to exact a little revenge for FedEx’s decision.

It certainly doesn’t bode well for the ACU, which sponsors CPAC, to be for sale. How can we trust any of their positions? (As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Keene’s been caught selling his position.)

Most disturbing is this item on the list of services the ACU had to offer:

Producing op-eds and articles written by ACU’s Chairman David Keene and / or other members of the ACU’s Board of Directors.  (Note that Mr. Keene writes a weekly column that appears in The Hill.)

The Hill is a respectable publication and, as such, should stop running Keene’s column immediately. In fact, any publication should question whether to run any pieces written by Keene or any other member of the ACU’s board.

I once fired a columnist after discovering he had lifted a few paragraphs from another source. He begged me to keep him on (apparently the whopping $30 we paid him each week was important), apologized for the error claiming he “didn’t know” what was acceptable.

But I couldn’t trust anything he wrote after that. Likewise, knowing Keene whored himself out to FedEx, we can’t trust any of his positions. We can’t really trust any position taken by the ACU now, either. Whitfield and Keene have to go to save what integrity the ACU has left.

And The Hill’s editor, Hugo Gurdon, should also drop Keene’s columns to preserve the integrity of his opinion pages. Space in The Hill is not Keene’s nor Whitfield’s to offer for $2 million.

Pay-for-play isn’t anything new, and many suspect it goes on all the time, involving organizations from across the political spectrum. But the ACU has been caught. The group should seriously consider replacing its entire board (they’re services were offered up, too) and its executive staff.

At the very least, it’s time for Whitfield and Keene to take one of those 3 million jobs the Obama stimulus has created.

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