The all-consuming British MPs expenses scandal has scarcely registered in the US news media until now. John Burn's report today does seem to have been notice however - it is listed as the most read international story in the world news section.
At one level, the scandal is a rich tale of politicians exploiting a lax system of expenses to claim a mind-boggling array of benefits. The claims have centered on so-called second-home allowances, which have allowed some members of Parliament to use nearly $40,000 a year in taxpayers’ money to renovate and even sell properties for profit, while others have claimed monthly payments for mortgages that had already been paid off. Still others claimed “necessities” like the clearing of a country house moat, an electrical massage chair and even a Kit Kat bar.
At another level, it is a story of a newspaper, The Telegraph, which broke with a reputation as a stuffy publication favored by retired army colonels and blue-rinsed widows to seize what has turned out to be one of Britain’s greatest scoops. As it has done so, it has stolen a march on its rivals in an overcrowded market where vanishing profits have intensified an already brutal rivalry.