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The senator who stopped loving Congress

February 16, 2010 - Jim Anderson
I was wondering if the Associated Press stories on Evan Bayh’s decision not to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate would mention his wife, Susan.

They don’t.

Bayh is described by the AP as a centrist Democrat from a Republican-leaning state.

The senator, in announcing his decision, said this: ‘‘To put it in the words most Hoosiers can understand: I love working for the people of Indiana, I love helping our citizens make the most of their lives, but I do not love Congress.’’

Bayh’s complaints about “brain-dead partisanship” and a lack of compromise have passed through the initial rounds of media scrutiny without much challenge.

Now, about Susan.

At Huffington Post, Matt Sledge, associate blog editor and Indiana native, notes one of the difficulties Bayh would have faced in seeking re-election.

Susan Bayh, an attorney, began serving on corporate boards in 1994 and has reportedly served on the boards of 14 corporations in the insurance, pharmaceutical, food processing, and other industries. Between 2006 and 2008 she earned $2.1 million from health insurers, including WellPoint, the insurer now making headlines for a 39 percent rate hike in California.

“Legal under Senate rules, Susan Bayh’s refusal to step down from WellPoint's board, and her husband's denial that the millions she had earned from WellPoint would influence him, were greeted with derision from ethics watchdogs,” Sledge writes.

Sledge speculates that Bayh believed campaign attacks against his family this fall would become more personal. Susan Bayh’s career as a professional board member had been mostly shrugged off until the health care debate came into sharper focus.

In November, at, Glenn Greenwald had labeled Bayh “the face of rotted Washington” for, among other things, being “a loyal servant to the insurance and health care industries over his own constituents.”

You probably won’t find that in the AP summaries either.


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