News & Politics

Scanlon’s Thesis Hits Close To Home

Would You Buy Advice on Ethics From This Man?

People at Johns Hopkins University were as surprised as everyone else to learn that Michael Scanlon, a key player in the corruption scandal starring Jack Abramoff, is a student of congressional ethics.

Scanlon—an admitted felon—successfully defended his graduate thesis the evening of May 1 at the university’s master’s in government program at Dupont Circle. Scanlon described his master’s thesis as “an evaluative history of the House ethics process.”

So the man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to corrupt public officials and defrauding Indian tribes of millions of dollars was lecturing on rules of conduct for members of Congress.

Only one Hopkins classmate, a House Democratic aide, seemed to realize just how ironic a scene it was. “It was all I could do not to break into hysterics,” says the classmate.

Scanlon stood up before four faculty members and nine other students and gave a brief introduction of his thesis, which focused on the case of the late Adam Clayton Powell, who was expelled from the House in 1967 for violating ethics rules.

Scanlon, who faces up to five years in prison, told Roll Call that getting his master’s degree was “just a loose end in my life.” A Hopkins official says of its star student: “He’s earned his degree, and he will be awarded a diploma.”