Associated Press reports:
The Senate ethics committee cleared Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad of breaking rules by getting mortgages through a VIP program, even as it scolded them Friday for not being more careful to avoid the appearance of sweetheart deals.
Apparently, the Committee was so proud of its work that it released its decision on a Friday afternoon in August. This will do nothing to undermine the reputation of both the House and Senate Ethics Committees as laughingstocks.
The Select Committee on Ethics told Dodd of Connecticut and Conrad of North Dakota in separate letters that it found “no substantial credible evidence” after a yearlong investigation that their mortgages from Countrywide Financial Corp. broke Senate gift rules. The two influential Democrats got their mortgages through a VIP program for those designated as “friends” of then-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
We should acknowledge a debt of gratitude to … Read More ➡
Hillary Chabot reports in the Boston Herald today:
Attorney General Martha Coakley donned a cap and gown to receive an honorary law degree from Suffolk University as her office actively probed a school trustee for conflict of interest – and maintains she did not have to get ethics clearance first.
But Ken Boehm of the ethics watchdog agency National Legal and Policy Center blasted Coakley over the Suffolk honor: “By any ethical yardstick, that’s way over the line and it shouldn’t have happened. Anything of value received from someone under investigation is wholly inappropriate.”
The Herald story continues:
Coakley, widely viewed as a potential candidate for U.S. Senate and a strong backer of ethics reform, was awarded the honorary degree May 7, telling graduates, “If your reputation for integrity is impaired, set that diploma on fire.”
Suffolk spokesman Greg Gatlin said in a statement:
Attorney General Martha Coakley is
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Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) better watch out. It is not just Republicans who are now complaining about his conflict of interest in controlling the budgets of the Justice Department and the FBI while under investigation by those entities.
From a blogger today known as texasrabble on the left-wing Daily Kos website:
Amazingly — despite credible allegations of numerous violations of federal law — Mollohan is still the Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies. That subcommittee, according to Cong. Mollohan’s own website, “funds the departments of Justice and Commerce.”
So let’s get this straight: The highest-level legislator responsible for funding the Justice Department is himself the subject of a very serious Justice Department investigation. Was there ever a bigger conflict of interest?
As texasrabble points out:
For over three years, the U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating West Virginia Congressman
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In a letter to the editor, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel responds today to the Wall Street Journal’s Monday editorial. He writes:
Your July 27 editorial “Morality and Charlie Rangel’s Taxes” insulted me in an attempt to undermine my work on health-care reform legislation. But your slurs can’t change the fact that the Ways and Means Committee, which I chair, has already succeeded in negotiating and passing its portion of the health-care bill without a hint of the rancor you’ve resorted to in your mean-spirited editorial attack. (emphasis ours)
Rangel’s indignation in the wake of his own admissions of failing to pay his taxes is the clearest evidence yet that he is divorced from political reality, and will become an increasing liability for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
He whines on:
Your editorial said more about your journalistic practices than it did about the issues under investigation in
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The lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal is titled “Morality and Charlie Rangel’s Taxes.” It begins:
Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.
Exhibit A concerns a rental property Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. The rental income from that property ought to be substantial since it is a luxury beach-front villa and is more often than not rented out. But when the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously
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In today’s Wall Street Journal, Betsy McCaughey writes:
The Congressional majority wants to pay for its $1 trillion to $1.6 trillion health bills with new taxes and a $500 billion cut to Medicare. This cut will come just as baby boomers turn 65 and increase Medicare enrollment by 30%. Less money and more patients will necessitate rationing.
You would think that AARP would be up in arms. Nope. As Barack Obama proudly pointed out last night, AARP supports his plan.
What Obama didn’t say is that AARP receives millions in federal funds, and hopes to get even more by becoming a vendor under his plan. In January 2007, NLPC published Special Report documenting taxpayer support for AARP. The study found that federal funding accounted for $83 million, or about 10 percent, of AARP’s then-annual revenue of $878 million.
McCaughey explains what is really at stake for seniors:… Read More ➡
John Bresnahan reported in Politico on July 15:
Embattled House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, facing a multi-pronged investigation by the House ethics committee, shelled out nearly $280,000 to four different law firms over the last quarter, according to his newest campaign disclosure report.
Overall, Rangel has paid $928,000 to his attorneys during the last year as his personal finances have come under scrutiny on a variety of fronts.
Much of the money was spent fending off allegations by NLPC.
We exposed Rangel’s 1) evading of taxes on rental income on his Dominican Republic beach house; 2) cheating on his DC property taxes by improperly claiming homestead exemption; and 3) leading a Citigroup-funded junket to the Caribbean in violation of House Rules.
There are two outrages here. First, Rangel gets to pay his legal bills out of his campaign funds while ordinary citizens who get into tax trouble … Read More ➡
In the wake of the indictment of Richard Ianieri of Coherent Systems International, for whom Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) secured earmarks, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm has offered some thoughts. From OneNewsNow yesterday:
“These are crummy little firms. Many of them are located in Murtha’s district. That’s part of the game,” he explains. “But if they have anything substantial to do, they sub it out to some real company and keep a big chunk for themselves. And out of that chunk they pay the political contributions that go hand-in-hand with this kind of operation.”
Murtha, Boehm contends, is like the center of a target that prosecutors will not reach until they penetrate the outer layers of corruption.
“I think what’s going to happen is we’re seeing the outer ring of the target fall first. That’s the corrupt little defense contractors who couldn’t survive but for this sort of political connection,” he
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Susan Crabtree reports in The Hill today:
The chairman of a House ethics probe into a Caribbean conference attended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus is himself a CBC member who attended the same event in 2005.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the former judge chosen to chair the ethics probe, has vowed to lead a fair investigation into trips taken by CBC members to St. Maarten in 2008 and Antigua and Barbuda in 2007.
NLPC exposed the 2008 junket. The Hill noted my reaction:
“The CBC really sticks together — you can see their solidarity in the face of these ethics charges,” Flaherty said. “To put one of their own members in charge of the investigation just shows that nothing has changed — the ethics process is still a complete mockery.”
The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended … Read More ➡
From a New York Times editorial today titled “The House Eyes the Swamp:”
Self-investigation has never been a signature virtue of Congress. So taxpayers should closely monitor the House ethics committee’s inquiry into the lucrative relationships between defense appropriators and military contractors.
The committee finally confirmed the inquiry — not yet a full-blown investigation — into suspicions that members and staffers earmarked hundreds of millions in defense contracts for favored companies in return for tens of millions in political donations. In a separate matter, the ethics committee opened an inquiry into whether Caribbean trips taken by Representative Charles Rangel and four other lawmakers violated House gift rules. It is encouraging to see such curiosity from the traditionally somnolent panel.
We too are glad that the Ethics Committee is looking into these matters, especially since we are the source of the allegations about the Rangel-led Caribbean junket. But it will take … Read More ➡