Ethics groups are wondering whether the U.S. Department of Justice has become skittish when it comes to investigating members of Congress, after numerous congressional corruption investigations were closed without trial last year, reported the New York Times.
Since the department's case against the late Rep. Ted Stevens (R-AK) notoriously fell apart two years ago, officials have halted at least five other corruption investigations against high-profile congressmen, including Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV), in photo.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has abandoned her efforts to launch an investigation of the House Ethics Committee, which announced it was indefinitely delaying its trial of the congresswoman in late November. Waters was charged over the summer with helping to steer $12 million in federal bailout funds to OneUnited Bank, a bank in which her husband held a considerable financial stake.
The House Ethics Committee abruptly postponed the high-profile ethics trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Friday, after new evidence came to light which may contradict some of the congresswoman's previous claims. The Democratic lawmaker is being charged with helping to steer more than $12 million in federal bailout funds to One United, a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake.
The House Ethics Committees says it will take up its charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) following its trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). But what exactly will it consider?
Last August, the congresswoman was charged with violating House ethics rules, for allegedly helping to steer over $12 million in federal bailout funds to a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake. Investigators say that Rep. Waters violated conflict-of-interest rules when she set up a meeting between OneUnited Bank officials and the U.S. Treasury Department.
In the interim, the Washington Timesreported that Waters co-sponsored legislation that directly benefited one of the top clients of a lobbying group that had her husband on the payroll.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) admitted to the FBI that he accepted free upgrades on a town home he purchased from convicted Chicago influence-peddler Tony Rezko, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The congressman has previously been the subject of a federal investigation for engaging in real estate deals with a developer named Calvin Boender.
During a 2008 interview with the FBI, Gutierrez reportedly said that he asked Rezko for upgrades on the town house before purchasing it. The congressman claimed that the price of the home had risen by $35,000 since he had first considered buying it, and Rezko agreed to give him an additional bathroom and a higher quality carpet to make up for the increase in cost.
A liberal financier at the center of two congressional ethics controversies may also be involved in some questionable business dealings, according to the New York Times. S. Donald Sussman, a billionaire hedge-fund titan, made news after his fiancé, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), was accused of traveling on his private jet to campaign events.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) has also been scrutinized for traveling to Sussman's Virgin Islands mansion on the billionaire's plane. Republicans have said the trip had the appearance of impropriety, since Frank serves as chair of the House Finance Committee and a company owned by Sussman has received $200 million in federal bailout money.
House Financial Services Committee Chair Barney Frank (D-MA) is just the latest member of Congress facing scrutiny for taking joy rides on a private jet owned by hedge-fund billionaire and federal bailout recipient S. Donald Sussman.
Republicans say that Frank needs to clear up ethical concerns about his flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sussman's $25 million private plane in 2009, and his subsequent vacation at the hedge-fund owner's luxurious Caribbean mansion. Sussman, a major philanthropist to liberal causes, has reportedly raked in $200 million in federal bailout funds for his company Paloma Securities. As head of the House Financial Services Committee, Frank helped push through the Wall Street bailout as well as extensive financial reforms.
The Maine Republican Party has filed a complaint against Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), for reportedly violating federal election laws by flying to a New York campaign fundraiser in a private jet owned by a corporation controlled by her fiancé.
Video captured by the Maine Watchdog shows Rep. Pingree and her fiancé, billionaire liberal philanthropist S. Donald Sussman, traveling on a $25 million jet which belonged to a Magic Carpet Enterprises, LLC., a corporation owned by Sussman. Records obtained by the watchdog group show that Rep. Pingree flew to an airport in White Plains, NY, where she then drove to a fundraising event in New York City.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) lobbied against the federal investigation of a Muslim professor whose charity is suspected of funding Osama bin Laden, according to 2006 documents.
The congressman appealed to several federal agencies on behalf of Islamic scholar Anwar Hajjaj, and complained that the terror-linked teacher dealt with "unwarranted scrutiny" when he returned through U.S. airports from trips to Middle Eastern countries.
A flurry of documents publicized this week appears to show further corruption within the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s scholarship program.
Letters written by CBC member Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and released by her GOP election opponent this week suggest that the congresswoman was more intimately involved with steering $31,000 in CBC scholarships to family members and associates than she previously admitted. The two letters, sent by Rep. Johnson to the CBC Foundation, ask that the organization send the scholarship money directly to her two grandsons and two grand-nephews instead of to their colleges.