It’s official. The House Ethics Committee will not conduct trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-NY) until safely after the November 2 election. Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced yesterday that Rangel’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 15 and Waters’ on November 19.
Politics have trumped ethics in the final days of this Congress. Notwithstanding her pledge to “drain the swamp” and preside over the most ethical Congress ever, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply will not allow high-profile ethics trials during the campaign season. This delay is sure to backfire. A new poll shows that most voters believe Congressional ethics have gotten worse in the last two years. According to the Hill, which conducted the poll:
The Hill/ANGA 2010 Midterm Election Poll finds that 57 percent of likely voters in 12 competitive districts believe that the ethical situation on Capitol Hill has deteriorated
In recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.
Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee’s ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election.”
Bonner’s statement was unusually blunt and was signed by all five Republican members of the Committee. It may have been prompted by the suggestion by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Sunday talk shows that Bonner was in agreement with the delay, which tonight’s statement calls “inaccurate.”
Lofgren is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s handpicked Chairwoman. If Pelosi is as serious about ethics as she claims, she should instruct Lofgren to schedule … Read More ➡
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is supposed to be conducting a trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on the 13 violations of House rules the Committee alleged on July 29. There is also supposed to be a trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Instead, Lofgren played host on Friday to comedian Stephen Colbert who testified “in character” on the plight of migrant farm workers before a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that Lofgren also chairs. I thought Colbert was actually pretty funny but other reviews were mixed.
The episode did confirm the Ethics Committee’s reputation as a joke. With corruption fueling anti-Congress sentiment, you would think that the Committee would be meeting around the clock to demonstrate that Pelosi’s pledge to “drain the swamp” is real. When Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) were asked earlier this year about the embarrassing ethics case involving … Read More ➡
In response to the perception that much of the stimulus money has been spent on wasteful or unnecessary projects, the White House last week released a report titled “100 Recovery Act Projects That Are Changing America.” It included $107 million for a wind farm in Missouri owned by Wind Capital Group (WCG), whose CEO is Tom Carnahan. His sister Robin (in photo) is the Democratic nominee for the Senate and his brother Russ is running for re-election to Congress.
When we commented on this appearance of cronyism back in May, we were under the impression that WCG qualified for a tax credit. It appears, however, that WCG will receive direct payments in lieu of tax credits for up to 30 percent of the cost of the wind farm.It is unclear whether the White House was aware that it was doing the Carnahans no favor by drawing renewed attention … Read More ➡
So much for draining the swamp. Several sources report that the House will not try Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) until after the November 2 elections. Rangel won the Democratic primary for his seat yesterday, barely achieving 50% of the vote against five challengers. During his House floor speech on August 10 when he was not attacking NLPC, Rangel pleaded for an expedited hearing on the 13 charges leveled against him by the Ethics Committee. This followed months of maneuvering by Rangel to delay the investigation.
Earlier this year when Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer were asked about the high profile ethics cases against Rangel and others, they claimed that the probes were evidence of the Democrats’ commitment to ethics. If the cases of Rangel and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) are put off to spare the Democrats political damage just before the election, this claim will be proven to be … Read More ➡
Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), issued a statement yesterday in response to the controversy swirling around the awarding of 23 scholarships by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to relatives and associates. The statement read, in part:
Neither the Foundation nor the CBC will allow unethical behavior in the awarding of scholarships or any programs that are designed to benefit the community.
I will not allow the absence of integrity to invade the Foundation nor the scholarship program…
Payne had nothing to say about his participation in a 2008 Caribbean junket that he knew was funded by big companies like Citigroup in violation of House Rules.
I was present at the event in St. Maarten and saw Payne identify the corporate sponsors by name, and one by one, ask for a round of applause. According to my notes, Payne stated that the conference “can’t … Read More ➡
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski appears to be slightly behind Joe Miller, her primary challenger. AP reports that 16,000 absentee ballots were cast and will not be counted until August 31, so the winner may not be known for some time.
NLPC has been a critic of Murkowski and her relationship with associates of corrupt Alaska Republicans like the late Ted Stevens. On July 26, 2007 Murkowski announced that she would sell back an undeveloped piece of land that she purchased in 2006, one day after NLPC filed a Complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee alleging a “sweetheart deal.”
The land is located on the scenic Kenai River, Alaska’s most popular waterway, where property values were rapidly escalating. The seller was real estate developer Bob Penney, a close friend of Stevens. The purchase price was $179,600, while similar lots were selling for between $250,000 and $350,000. In its Complaint, NLPC alleged … Read More ➡
David Kocieniewski reports in the New York Times that former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (at right with Rangel) owned stock in Nabors Industries at the time he introduced the company’s CEO Eugene Isenberg to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). Isenberg made a $1 million pledge to the so-called Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York (CCNY) while Rangel helped preserve a tax break for Nabors worth hundreds of millions.
Mr. Morgenthau, who has known both Mr. Isenberg and Mr. Rangel for decades, set up two meetings to talk about a donation and hosted the first at the Manhattan district attorney’s office in September 2006.
After Mr. Isenberg donated $100,000 in December 2006, the three men met for a follow-up discussion about the contribution,
At a tense and sometimes fiery candidates’ forum Monday night, Mr. Rangel shot back that it was not his dignity the president should be worried about.
“Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is,” Mr. Rangel said of the 49-year-old Mr. Obama. “For the next two years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity.”
The unexpected eruption seemed to reflect the increasingly bitter relations between the embattled 20-term Democrat from Harlem and a president who is trying to protect his party’s prospects in a difficult midterm election season.
This reaction is also a bit different from Rangel’s August 10 speech on the House floor. When he wasn’t attacking NLPC, Rangel referenced the … Read More ➡
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), charged with violating House ethics rules, said today on ABC’s Good Morning America that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is “not very tight, they don’t do very good work, rather sloppy work.”
Waters is accused of seeking federal funds to bail out a bank in which her husband was a stockholder. She has denied breaking House rules.
OCE should not be confused with the House Ethics Committee. OCE was established in 2008 in recognition of how poorly the Ethics Committee does its job. Comprised of former members of Congress, it is slightly more independent of the House leadership.
The new office was already under attack from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation at the end of May, co-sponsored by 19 other CBC members, to severely curtail the ability of the new office to investigate members of Congress.… Read More ➡