Tipton’s Problems Rapidly Intensify

7NEWS reports this morning:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton may have violated ethics rules after he spent more than $7,000 from his House office account on vendors that contract with his nephew’s company, according to The Associated Press…

Invoices show that the congressman paid more than $7,000 to iConstituent and Constituent Services for newsletters and an April telephone town hall.

Both companies are vendors of Colorado-based Broadnet, which is owned by Tipton’s nephew, Steve Patterson.

In today’s Denver newspaper, reporter Allison Sherry ably follows up the story from last week, broke by Politico, that Rep. Scott Tipton had apologized to the House Ethics Committee for inappropriate representations by his daughter Elizabeth Tipton in trying to win business for Colorado-based telephony services provider Broadnet. Broadnet is owned by Tipton’s nephew, which could be Rep. Tipton’s next problem if he manages to convince you that his daughter was just an inexperienced and well-intentioned namedropper.

Sherry also reports that Rep. Tipton’s daughter in fact lives with the congressman in his Washington, DC apartment, which rightly adds a layer of complication to the defense that he wasn’t aware of his daughter’s activities. The Pueblo Chieftain reported last week that rumors of this ethics problem had been circulating for some time, which is obviously a problem for Tipton’s desired spin of him going ‘unbidden’ to the Ethics Committee.

It remains to be seen whether or not contractor relationships like that between Tipton’s office and his nephew’s company are included in the clear prohibition against employment of family members, but either way, it really doesn’t look good. Even if the House Ethics Committee doesn’t take action over either of these pieces of the story, it will still make for…well, we don’t have to actually write the script for the ad, do we? You can imagine how nasty they will be.

In other news, reports the Albany Times Union:

More than a dozen House freshmen – including one Albany-area congressman – spent more than $200,000 on staff salaries during the first three months of 2011.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a first-term Republican from Kinderhook, spent $202,705 on first quarter staff expenditures, ranking eighth out of the 17 House freshmen who spent the most on staff salaries, according to a recent analysis conducted by Colorado Pols…

So who was the top dog – er, spender?

That title goes to Republican Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado. The Congressman spent $243,431 on salaries for 21 staffers – nearly $57,000 more than his Democratic predecessor, John Salazar, spent in his first three months in office in 2005.

Colorado Pols lambasted Tipton’s high wages as hypocrisy from the congressman famous for his “smaller government” image.

The conservative Grand Junction Sentinel’s editorial board took a hard shot at Tipton on Tuesday over his congressional staff salaries (paywalled link here), saying that he “needs to explain to residents of the 3rd District why the fiscal sacrifice he has said we all must share when it comes to federal spending should not apply to his own staff.” That hurts, especially coming from them. The Colorado Springs Independent also picked up on our original story.

The fact is, either one of these narratives is highly problematic for Tipton, who ran on an absurd platform of “cutting the government in half,” and is coming under separate fire for his thoughtless, arbitrary, and stammeringly inarticulate approach to his job. In aggregate, it could really be enough baggage to retire him–even if the ethics problem doesn’t get any worse.