IN an emotional speech on the House floor last week, Democratic Rep. Joseph Early angrily denied his involvement in the House bank scandal and scolded the House leadership.
Constituents from Representative Early's central Massachusetts district expressed surprise at the outburst coming from the normally low-key congressman. Early has been accused of writing 140 bad checks and overdrawing his account in 15 out of 39 months.
On its own, the check-kiting scandal would probably not be that damaging, but the nine-term congressman has been troubled by other problems, say analysts.
Two years ago, he was hounded by news reports that he accepted college scholarship money for his children from a lobbyist. In addition, some constituents complain that the conservative Democrat is out of touch with the more-liberal voters of his district.
"The context here is a candidate who was already on shaky ground," says Martin Linsky, public policy lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Early has firmly denied any wrongdoing in the bank scandal, claiming he never wrote one bad check.
"I think the intensity of his denial is really a signal that he was already in trouble and it's going to be a problem," Mr. Linsky says.
But others are waiting for more information about Early's involvement in the scandal.
"I think people really want to know about the details as to what he knew about it," says Bari Boyer, a community activist from Early's central Massachusetts district.