Good riddance, Mr. Wynn

The House of Representatives meets at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) should resign at 10:31 a.m. Sadly, this is not an April Fools’ Day joke.

It is never a happy time for an incumbent who has been indignantly rejected by his constituents in a primary election after many years of public service. That ignominious fate visited Wynn last month when his suburban D.C. constituents decided to usher in some change in the name of Donna Edwards.

Edwards, a Prince George’s County nonprofit executive who came close to knocking off Wynn in 2006, is highly favored to win the Democratic district come November.

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Any defrocked officeholder like Wynn has every right to feel bitter, rejected, burned and embarrassed.

And under the rules of human nature, no one would really hold it against him if he doesn’t have the same bounce in his step as he makes his way to floor votes, committee hearings or the Capitol steps to have a picture taken with 100 antsy teenagers who would rather be eating lunch and texting one another than listening to their congressman drone on about motions to recommit.

But apparently no unpleasant scenarios like that will be facing the esteemed Mr. Wynn, who is not one for crying into his beer.

Not only did he shake off the electoral repudiation, not to mention his unenlightened, disgruntled constituents — he immediately announced that he would become a partner in the prestigious D.C. law firm of Dickstein Shapiro.

Fair enough. The bank vaults of K Street have always been, and will always be, a lucrative post-public service repository for members of Congress who have had enough, or whose constituents have decided that they have had enough.

But Wynn sank to a new low last week when he threw the amulets of class and honor from the top of the Capitol dome and announced he would resign in June so that he could simply begin cashing in before his term ends.

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Apparently Wynn had his fingers crossed when he stood in the House chamber to take the oath of office with his colleagues back in January of 2007.

Now, clearly wanting to start the clock ticking on the mandatory one-year ban for lobbying those very same colleagues, Wynn crassly repudiated his constituents, who mistakenly thought they had voted him in to serve a full two-year term.

Mumbling nonsense about wanting Edwards to be able to take office early and get a head start on other new members of the 111th Congress, Wynn cloaked his greed and disloyalty under the false banner of serving his constituents.

Wynn’s decision has nothing to do with serving his constituents, and everything to do with serving Al Wynn and his bank account.

One high-level Maryland Democrat, familiar with Wynn and Maryland politics, called his decision “breathtakingly cynical” and said that leaving early for the almighty dollar “is showing the same level of constituent service that has marked his entire tenure in Congress.”

Wynn has put his constituents in an awkward position and forced Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) either to leave the district unrepresented or call for a costly special election. All because Wynn doesn’t have the humility or guts to hang in there a few months.

Most members of Congress, the honorable ones, would suck it up, take the bad with the good, celebrate the trust that their constituents placed in them over the years, and soldier on until the end of the term.

I have never felt comfortable about the early resignations of Reps. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Tom DeLay (R-Texas) or Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) either. I suppose there are always legitimate, acceptable, extenuating, health, family or ethical circumstances that would force a member to quit mid-term, but simply wanting to make more dough is not one of them.

My colleague at The Hill, Betsy Rothstein, might have stumbled on this major Wynn character flaw when she caught up with him in May of 2006. As a tribute to Mother’s Day, Rothstein asked lawmakers about the best advice they ever received from their mothers. This was Wynn’s now-prophetic reply: “A pretty poor rat has only one hole. [Meaning,] you should always have other options. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Don’t do us, or your constituents, any favors, Mr. Wynn. Don’t feel compelled to stick around until June. In fact, leave today, please.

Being elected to the People’s House is a privilege. Serving for 15 years, or 15 minutes for that manner, is an honor. Whether your heart is in it or not, serving in the Congress should not be about rat-holes and eggs in baskets.

Dickstein Shapiro’s website lists “loyalty” as a core value, proclaiming, “we value loyalty to our clients, each other, and to the firm.” Loyalty to clients is like loyalty to constituents, right? Just something to think about.

Mr. Wynn, men and women have gone to their graves defending our right to choose who will represent us.

They have done their duty. Now do yours. Resign immediately. Just go away.

You can reach Jim Mills at jmills@thehill.com.