From SPORTSbyBROOKS via The Hill
Kentucky Senator and former Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Bunning is having his ethics challenged. Bunning is currently the only member of Congress who is able to charge people for his autograph. That practice would ordinarily be illegal under Senate ethics rules. Nor does Bunning’s status as a Hall of Fame pitcher make the practice legal. However, Bunning has simply skirted laws and congressional ethics rules by establishing a charity called the Jim Bunning Foundation. Unfortunately, the primary benificiary of the foundation appears to be Bunning himself.
According to the Congressional newspaper The Hill, Bunning’s charitable foundation has never donated more than $20,000 a year. Yet, by establishing the charity, Bunning is able to charge baseball memorabilia companies for his appearances and autographs. The companies simply make the check out to Bunning’s “charity.” Last year, Bunning made two such appearances. Along with licensing money from the baseball Hall of Fame, this netted Bunning $16,091. Bunning’s charity donated $16,350. No problem, right? Except for the fact that Bunning pays himself an annual salary of $155,000 to run the charity. And, he’s been making the 155 grand every year since 2001.
In other words, Sen. Jim Bunning has paid himself $1,395,000 to run a charity that has never donated more than $19,575 in any single year. An ethics expert interviewed by The Hill called Bunning’s practice of charging to run a charity while being a sitting U.S. Senator, “probably legal…but really questionable.”
Actually, the Senator would have actually made THREE card-signing appearances for charity this year, but promoters of a Detroit card show had to drop Bunning after he voted against a bailout for the auto industry. This despite the fact that Bunning is a former Tigers pitcher. Apparently too many of his former fans wanted to kill the former Detroit pitcher.