Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced Thursday night that his re-election campaign had hired a lawyer to investigate what the attorney considered the legal but "unacceptable" conduct of Harkin's campaign staff.
To me, it bears a striking resemblance to the Catholic Church trying to head off state run investigations of the child abuse scandals. Granted that the activity being investigated is nowhere near as blatantly illegal or as politically explosive as child abuse, but the concept is the same. The Harkin campaign is investigating itself for possible criminal violations of the law, and it is doing so for the purpose of heading off a criminal investigation by state and/or federal authorities. "No need for you to trouble yourself, officer. We're looking into that ourselves. We'll be sure to keep you posted." Uh huh.
I have some questions. What previous connection does David Wiggins (the attorney hired by Harkin to investigate) have with Harkin and/or the Harkin campaign? Is there any reason at all to believe the results of an investigation of Harkin's campaign by his own attorney? Isn't that exactly the same as Harkin "investigating" the matter himself? Will anyone give me odds on the "investigation" resulting in a clean bill of health for Harkin? How effective is this investigation going to be without the ability to issue subpoenas (the story notes that at least some of the people Wiggins wants to talk to have retained lawyers and those lawyers are not permitting Wiggins to interview their clients)? Would Harkin be dumb enough to attempt to cloak the "results" of said "investigation" in the attorney client privilege if, by some miracle, Wiggins actually reports bad news? Is that why he hired a lawyer to do a job that a private investigator or a reporter or even his own campaign staff could do?
For that matter, how could Wiggins report bad news? He has an obligation not to harm his own client and (except in one case: where there really is no bad news to report) that obligation seems to create a conflict of interest.