Another Rick Santorum Scandal

Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

SODOM & GOMORRAH: I am considered a radical by many because I believe that people should match their actions with their beliefs. Though I find fault with many politicians, there is special contempt for Rick Santorum. Perhaps there are many reasons we should dislike the man, but one particularly bothers me.

Rick Santorum has had a few scandals, not the least of which has been his stance on homosexuality that has led to an interesting Google problem (if you type “Santorum” into the search box on Google, you’ll see what I mean). However, the newest Rick Santorum scandal is something quite old.

The scandal is simple: Santorum is a hypocrite. Perhaps all politicians are, in a way. Some (they call themselves “realists”) say that it’s the reality of the job; I would suggest that any job that requires hypocrisy is a job not worth having. Santorum’s hypocrisy shines brilliantly on the issue of tort reform.

Mr. Santorum has a long career of fighting “frivilous” lawsuits where people sue for outrageous sums of money in court for injuries. Tort reform, which is often a proposal to cap the money that can be won from damages, has been a popular policy of the Republican Party for several years. It touches on two key tenets of the party. First, that government shouldn’t impede the free market. The argument is that frivilous lawsuits bankrupt many small businesses because they’re forced to pay incredible sums of money for events that are often outside their control. Second, people should take personal responsibility for their actions. Here, the argument is that the people suing for damages took a certain level of risk when they were undertaking a particular action. By suing for large sums of money, the people who undertook that risk are shifting blame to the doctors or the businesses that they freely selected instead of acknowledging that they chose wrong. A free market purist is likely to maintain that doctors who butcher their patients will go out of business on their own because people will hear about the butchery and stop going to them. The doctor will do something else, like cut meat, instead of being bankrupted under the current system.

The reason I would suggest that there’s another Rick Santorum scandal is because in 1996, his wife was permanently injured by a chiropractor. Karen Santorum sued for damages in Virginia and won a sum of $350,000 in 1999. During the proceedings, Rick Santorum refused to make any public comment. His said that, “The court proceedings are a personal family matter. I will not be offering any further public comments, other than that I am not a party to the suit. But I am fully supportive of my wife.” One may of course respect a husband for standing by his wife, but not a politician who feels that lawsuits are only frivilous when a family member isn’t part of them.

Mrs. Santorum’s Pittsburgh attorney, Heather Heidelbaugh, originally sought $500,000 in damages against Dr. David Dolberg of Virginia. Heidelbaugh said afterwards that Mrs. Santorum was vindicated by the outcome of the case.

Further, for the conspiratorially minded, the case directly links the Santorum family with friends of the Obama administration. Heather Heidelbaugh was with the Pittsburgh law firm Burns, White & Hickton. Today, the firm is just called Burns White because David Hickton, one of the senior partners, was tapped by President Obama to be the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

As the good Lord said, one should remove the beam from their own eye before trying to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. The Republican Party may want to remember this before they nominate a candidate who is merely the lesser of two evils.