Mark Hemingway of the Washington Examiner reports that 45 members of Congress are clinging to campaign funds received from Rep. Charles Rangel’s National Leadership PAC during the 2008 election cycle. The total of outstanding funds is $303,000.
“It just shows how out of touch they are and certainly explains Congress’ 11 percent approval rating,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center. “It’s a case where greed trumps common sense and everybody knows that returning the money is the ethical thing to do.”
Hemingway reports that a score of members of Congress have parted with hundreds of thousands in donations from Rangel, including several who did so after being contacted by the Examiner. That total is sure to rise as more attention is focused on Rangel’s extensive giving to his House colleagues.
Most if not all of the money has been given to charity, a practice that itself is rife with ethical problems. Members of Congress benefit politically by buying goodwill with favored charities, usually located in the member’s district. Giving the money to charity is certainly preferable to keeping it, but if the money is really tainted, shouldn’t it be returned to its source?
Rangel, for instance, claimed that he gave donations to charity received from Ponzi swindler Allen Stanford. But the receiver in the case would like $1.8 million in political contributions from Rangel and a score of other members to be returned to him so that the money may be returned to victims.
Also, games can be played with the “donations” to charity. Many members of Congress routinely make gifts out of their campaign funds to charities. What is to stop a member from claiming that gifts that would have been made anyways comprise the “tainted” money?
Boehm said the large number of congressmen keeping Rangel contributions encourages the general impression that Congress as a whole is corrupt. Boehm pointed to the National Legal and Policy Center Web site, which highlights two members of the House panel trying Rangel who are among those keeping campaign money they got from him.
Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky.(in photo) received $10,000 from Rangel in 2004, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., received contributions totaling $3,000, also during the 2004 cycle. Chandler’s office did not respond to The Examiner’s request for comment. A spokesman for Butterfield could not be reached at either his Washington or district offices.
The Examiner’s list of members who have not returned Rangel donations:
Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa. – $10,000
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga. – $10,000
Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill. – $10,000
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska – $10,000
Rep. John Boccieri, D-Ohio – $5,000
Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa – $5,000
Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla. – $2,500
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind. – $10,000
Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y. – $5,000
Rep. Stephen Cohen, D-Tenn. – $2,500
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. – $5,000
Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio – $10,000
Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas – $5,000
Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md. – $5,000
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. – $10,000
Rep. Parker Griffith, D-Ala. – $5,000
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C. – $5,000
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. – $5,000
Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. – $10,000
Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H. – $5,000
Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis. – $10,000
Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. – $10,000
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich. – $5,000
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. – $10,000
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. – $1,000
Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa – $5,000
Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y. – $10,000
Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga. – $5,000
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah – $10,000
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. – $5,000
Rep. Michael McMahon, D-N.Y. – $10,000
Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla. – $5,000
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. – $5,000
Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif. – $5,000
Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas – $10,000
Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. – $5,000
Rep. David Scott, D-Ga. – $5,000
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. – $10,000
Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C. – $5,000
Rep. Harry Teague, D-N.M. – $2,500
Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y. – $5,000
Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. – $5,000
Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. – $5,000
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. – $10,000
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. – $10,000
Timeline of Charles Rangel Ethics Scandal
Flaherty: Rangel Had to Know of Junket’s Corporate Sponsorship (Fox News Channel video)
Flaherty: Rangel Dirty Even After Coming Clean (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)
Flaherty: Rangel is ‘Serial Offender’ (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)