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Tom Coburn's Pick of Aide Shows Latitude in Congressional Hiring

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Tom Coburn (above) hired Kramer Largent, who was indicted in July 2006 on four felony counts. Coburn says he is helping Largent get his life back on track.

A Senator hiring a recent college graduate from his home state with previous political experience wouldnít usually raise any eyebrows.

But Sen. Tom Coburnís decision to hire a former Memberís son who has a criminal record illustrates the latitude lawmakers have to hire as they see fit ó and the value of personal connections in a world where information about wrongdoing can be found at a momentís notice.

The Oklahoma Republican in March brought on Kramer James Largent as a district staff assistant in his Tulsa office, according to the website LegiStorm.

The Oklahoma State University graduate, who previously interned for another Senator, pleaded guilty to criminal solicitation and sexual harassment of a minor in a 2006 case.

A criminal charge or arrest is usually a black mark that ends careers on Capitol Hill.

An aide to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) was fired in 2008 on the day her office learned he had been charged with receiving and distributing child pornography. The year before, an aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) lost his job and was arrested for using a Senate computer to arrange a meeting with an individual he believed to be a 13-year-old boy but was actually a witness cooperating with the police.

Largentís transgression occurred years before he arrived in Coburnís office. It certainly helped that he is the son of NFL Hall of Famer and former Oklahoma Rep. Steve Largent (R) and that he previously interned for former Sen. John Ensign
(R-Nev.) during a summer in college.

Beyond their Congressional connections, Largent and Ensign knew Coburn well through their involvement with a Christian organization known as the Fellowship. Largent and Ensign at one point lived in the Fellowshipís house on Capitol Hill, known as the C Street Center. Both Coburn and Largent played a role in confronting Ensign about the extramarital affair that derailed his career.

Coburnís decision to hire Kramer Largent was part of a process of helping him get his life back on track, John Hart, a spokesman for the Senator, said in a statement.

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