Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Bud and Bob' Show: No Lack of Drama in Pennsylvania, Shusters Aim to Be First Father and Son to Serve US House, but Ethics Scrape May Dim Chances

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Bud and Bob' Show: No Lack of Drama in Pennsylvania, Shusters Aim to Be First Father and Son to Serve US House, but Ethics Scrape May Dim Chances

Article excerpt

POLITICS runs through the Shuster family the same way the Allegheny Mountains dominate this part of central Pennsylvania. Great granddad was a mayor of Pittsburgh. Pop is running for reelection to the United States Congress. Mom oversees the campaign office.

Now Bob Shuster, who has been campaigning door to door for his elders since the age of 6, is stumping for himself. "Hi, I'm Bob Shuster and I'm running for Congress!" the former congressional aide tells any voter who bothers coming to the door.

If he is elected in Pennsylvania's Fifth Congressional District and his father, Bud, wins reelection in the Ninth, they will become the first father-son team in the history of the US House of Representatives. In the 1950s, Ohioans elected a mother and son to the House, but no father and son have ever served at the same time.

The family ties that bind, however, don't always buoy a campaign. Sometimes they sink it. Congressional races are riddled with losses by the offspring of officeholders.

The plot thickens

The Shusters, both Republicans, have an added problem: an unfolding ethics scandal involving the elder Shuster. While it probably doesn't threaten the reelection of Bud Shuster, it may cloud the campaign of the son, political analysts say.

"I haven't gotten any sense that he {Bud Shuster} faces a serious challenge yet," says G. Terry Madonna, professor of political science at Millersville University in Millersville, Pa. "The question is whether the sins of the father are visited on the son."

The scandal broke last month when Roll Call, a biweekly newspaper covering Congress, published a story about the ties between Congressman Shuster and lobbyist Ann Eppard. It revealed that he stayed overnight at her Washington-area home, that she serves as his paid political adviser and fund-raiser, and that his campaign records reside at her home. The congressman quickly revealed that, in fact, he and his family have stayed many times with Ms. Eppard, a longtime family friend as well as a former aide for more than 20 years.

The public-interest group Common Cause on March 6 called for a House ethics investigation into the relationship. A week earlier, a Ralph Nader watchdog group asked the Justice Department to investigate the matter. They charge that Shuster and Eppard may have violated federal laws that prohibit congressmen from receiving gifts of value in exchange for an official act. Eppard is a transportation lobbyist, who reportedly earned more than $600,000 last year, and Shuster is chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

Ethics committee approval?

Shuster did check with the House Ethics Committee on his arrangement with Eppard. He claims the committee staffer said that, because of their long relationship, it did not break ethics rules for Eppard to give paid political advice, to offer him and his family overnight stays at her home, or to drive him to events. …

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