C Street’s Animal House needs a makeover

C STREET’S ANIMAL HOUSE NEEDS A MAKEOVER…. The headlines have been less than kind lately for the secretive “Fellowship” that lives in the red-brick townhouse on Capitol Hill’s C Street. Some high-profile members of the so-called “Family” — Mark Sanford, John Ensign, and Chip Pickering — have been caught up in sex scandals, despite being far-right, “family-values”-style Republicans, who’ve spent years moralizing to the rest of us.

Zachary Roth argued yesterday that the Christian fellowship group is engaged in a little “rebranding” this week, with news stories characterizing the evangelical ministry as “a benevolent prayer group that offers ‘crucial counseling’ to its powerful members, helping keep them on the straight and narrow.”

But looking over the reports, Roth concludes the adultery controversies may not be a coincidence.

[T]he re-branding seems only to add to the evidence that C Street and the Fellowship serve first and foremost as a way for Republican family values politicians to discreetly deal with their extra-marital affairs.

Politico reports that the Fellowship focuses on what its leaders call the “‘up and out,’ or powerful politicians struggling to confront their personal demons.” And Hall, the former Democratic congressman, explained to Roll Call what he sees C Street as being for: “These men [Ensign, Sanford, and Pickering] are good men. They made mistakes and they’re paying for it. And that’s what these ministries are about.”

That explanation … makes clear that dealing with extra-marital affairs is absolutely central to C Street’s purpose.

Which, of course, leads to another complicating angle. If lawmakers in this ministry turn to their fellow “Family” members for spiritual guidance, that’s obviously a private matter. If, however, these lawmakers also turn to their fellow “Family” members to help cover up personal scandals — say, with hush-money payments — then we have members of Congress with first-hand knowledge about another member’s wrongdoing.

Tom Coburn thinks “Fellowship” members don’t have to talk about these matters. Whether he’s right remains to be seen.

And if you missed it, Rachel Maddow had another great segment on C Street last night.