Senator Ted's Excellent Adventure
Ted Kaufman may not have a plan for his future after the Senate, but for the present, he is a man on a mission.
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No better example of the value of Kaufman’s institutional knowledge and experience can be found than in the recent passage of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, which is aimed at strengthening the tools and resources federal prosecutors can use to combat financial fraud. Kaufman introduced the legislation on the floor, along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Beyond the import of the legislation itself, it was introduced successfully by a freshman senator—a freshman senator, who by virtue of already announcing he would not seek re-election in 2010, had made himself a lame duck.
“I don’t believe any one senator has introduced and passed legislation in his or her first year,” says Delaware’s now senior Senator Tom Carper. “Ted helped make the legislation a lot less partisan than it might otherwise have been.”
Kaufman himself dismisses the “lame duck” label. “Ninety percent of what senators do they’d do even if they were elected for life. It’s a day-to-day thing. If you need a senator’s help for something you’re trying to get done, you ask for it, regardless of his situation. The next day you’re onto something else and looking for help elsewhere.”
Kaufman adds that by not running for re-election, he does not have to spend the precious two years of his term campaigning or fundraising. “I don’t have to figure a political angle for my vote.”
Kaufman has detected a return to a more personable and civil atmosphere that had characterized what had all but become a bygone era in Senate proceedings. “It’s still quite partisan, but the battle now is more about ideas than personalities,” Kaufman says.
A senator from the other side of the aisle, Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, agrees a more civil feeling has returned, and he credits Kaufman for being part of it.
“An absence of personal conflict is a sign of stability, and Ted is a very stable person,” Isakson says. “Everything he does helps temper the atmosphere.”
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