Former Congressman Deals With Money, Job Woes

Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays has yet to land a new full-time job since he lost for reelection last fall. He is also working through a campaign finance mess after a former campaign worker allegedly made off with almost $200,000.   

The 63-year-old, who was New England's last Republican House member, has had a rough time recently

In November, he narrowly lost his bid for an 11th term to Democrat Jim Himes. Them, Shays got a painful lesson in the darker side of campaign finance.

He must sort out what happened to more than $190,000 he says might have been embezzled from his failed re-election bid.

Ironically, the man who crusaded on Capitol Hill for years against the corrosive influence of money in politics now needs to raise cash to cover his campaign debt.

While he tackles the money mess, Shays is weighing job prospects.

He is among several incumbents who are dealing with the same thing, including Thelma Drake of Virginia and Nick Lampson of Texas. There's also former New Hampshire Sen. John E. Sununu, whose latest Washington assignment is only part-time.

Himes, Shays’ one-time foe, has sought support from colleagues in urging President Barack Obama to appoint Shays to head the Peace Corps. Shays is a former Peace Corps volunteer.

"He's busy exploring and evaluating his various opportunities and determining what his next move is going to be," Michael Fox, a Shays spokesman, said.

On the campaign finance front, Shays has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against his former campaign manager, Michael Sohn, about the missing money.

The FBI has been informed and has begun a criminal investigation, Shays' campaign said in an FEC filing.

A grand jury has also been investigating.

Sohn has not been charged with any wrongdoing and his lawyer has declined comment.

There were dozens of unauthorized campaign account transactions, including 29 checks totaling $83,561, more than $70,000 in unauthorized ATM withdrawals and $21,835 in debit card transactions, Shays' FEC filings show.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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