Culture of Corruption

Speaker Pelosi Open to Reducing Power of House Ethics Board

Pelosi and Clyburn photoHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signified that she’s open to reigning in the power of an independent congressional ethics board, even though she urged the creation of the board in 2008, reported The Hill.

Two years ago, House Speaker Pelosi strongly backed the establishment of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a bipartisan board made up of private citizens, saying that it would “bring an additional measure of transparency to the ethics enforcement process.” But at a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus – a group which wants to "reform" the OCE – Pelosi and House Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), in photo, reportedly indicated that they were willing to reconsider changing some of the OCE’s rules.

Congressional Black Caucus Asks Congress to Restrict Power of Ethics Board

OCE door photoMembers of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked the House to curtail the power of a congressional ethics board, after multiple members of the caucus have come under investigation by the board over the past year.

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation at the end of May, which was co-sponsored by 19 other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The bill would restrict the Office of Congressional Ethics -- which is a bipartisan board staffed solely with private citizens -- from releasing the results of its investigations in cases that the House Ethics Committee decides have no merit. The OCE would also be barred from initiating investigations of its own, and would instead have to wait for a complaint to be filed by a citizen with intimate knowledge of the alleged malfeasance.

Ex-Detroit Mayor Going to Jail But What About Mom?

Former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to 18 months to five years in prison two weeks ago for violating probation. Kilpatrick was on probation for lying under oath in 2008 about a text messages to and from his then Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

His mother, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks-Kilpatrick (D-MI), has been luckier. She was cleared by the House Ethics Committee in February after taking part in a Caribbean junket, the same 2008 trip for which Charles Rangel was admonished, costing him his chairmanship of the Ways and Means committee.

Was Sestak Job Offer Against the Law?

Sestak photo“I don’t have anything to add to what I said in March,” said a tight-lipped White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs last Friday. Reporters pressed Gibbs to comment on allegations that the Obama administration offered Joe Sestak (D-PA) a “high ranking” government job if Sestak would drop out of the Senate primary race against Arlen Specter (D-PA).

Gibbs, sounding like a broken record, repeated this or some similar phrase eight times during the White House briefing.

Crony Capitalism, Carnahan Style

Tom CarnahanWind power is not economically feasible. It is only a reality because of tax breaks and government subsidies, which are often the seed corn for political favoritism and cozy dealings.

In Missouri, a company called Wind Capital Group (WCG) is more than well connected. In the photo to the right is the firm’s CEO is Tom Carnahan. His brother is Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and his sister is Robin Carnahan, the Missouri Secretary of State. His father was governor and his mother a U.S. Senator.

Is Rangel Detached From Reality?

Rangel photoSteven T. Dennis of CQ-Roll Call interviewed former House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) last week and reports:

The veteran New York Democrat still wants his Ways and Means chairmanship back, but he doesn't want reporters to write that he's planning to fight for it. He wants and needs the ethics committee to clear his name, but he feels it already sandbagged him with an unjustified admonishment that appears nowhere in House rules and gave him no chance to challenge the finding.

Rangel “temporarily” stepped down from his Chairmanship on March 3, the same way that Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) “temporarily” resigned as ranking member on the Ethics Committee in 2006. Mollohan did not come back and neither will Rangel.

Washington Post: Mollohan Had ‘Worst Washington Week’

Political reporter Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post has initiated a new “award,“ which, in his words, “honors, so to speak, that person, place or thing that had the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.”

The judge considered the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth, and the bureaucrats on whose watch the Gulf oil spill occurred. According to Cilliza:

But in the end, they were all in a race for second place. Rep. Alan Mollohan, a West Virginia Democrat who was defeated in Tuesday's primary, was our runaway selection.

Congressman Mollohan Loses Democratic Primary

Mollohan photoRep. Alan Mollohan, whose finances were the subject of a four-year federal probe triggered by NLPC, was defeated yesterday in the Democratic primary in West Virginia’s first Congressional District. The 14-term Congressman was beaten 56 to 44 percent by state Senator Mike Oliverio, who made corruption the centerpiece of his campaign. Mollohan accused Oliverio of “spreading right-wing smears.”

The investigation began in February 2006 after NLPC filed a 500-page Complaint with the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia alleging that Mollohan failed to report millions in assets on his Congressional disclosure forms in order to conceal cozy financial relationships with recipients of earmarks he had arranged.

Sweet House Deal for Rep. Gutierrez's Daughter

Gutierrez photoRep. Luis V. Gutierrez’s (D-IL) multitude of legal and ethical problems were compounded on Monday, when it was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times that his daughter may have gotten a sweetheart deal on her home in Chicago.

Gutierrez was the mentor of former Chicago ward-26 alderman Billy Ocasio, who initiated specialized affordable-housing programs in his district. Gutierrez’s daughter, Omaira Figueroa, benefited from the program, buying an affordable condo for a discounted $155,000 in June, 2008, and selling it for $239,900 just over a year later.

Office of Congressional Ethics Asked to Release PMA Probe Details

Flake photoTwo congressmen are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to release details of an investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme, after the House Ethics Committee has refused to reveal information it collected during its own probe of the case.

On Feb. 26, the House Ethics Committee issued a report which cleared seven members of congress of exchanging earmarks for campaign donations with the now-defunct PMA Group. However, the committee has declined to disclose details of the investigation.

Syndicate content