Culture of Corruption

Rangel Confronted With New Ethics Allegations

Appearing on New York City's Channel 5 this morning, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was asked about allegations that he improperly used funds from his so-called National Leadership PAC for his legal defense in his House ethics case. Rangel responded by calling the allegations "ridiculous" and attacking NLPC.

Rep. Gregory Meeks Failed to Report Gambling Winnings

Meeks photoBenjamin Lesser of the New York Daily News reports today that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) on November 17 amended his 2008 financial disclosure forms to show $3,500 in "gambling winnings." This disclosure, late by two years, raises more questions than it answers. According to the Daily News:

The amendment does not say how Meeks won the money, where he was gambling or how much he bet. It merely says: "In 2008, I had gambling winnings of approximately $3,500."

House Censures Charles Rangel; Ex-Ways and Means Chair DID Profit From Corruption

On the House floor tonight, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) again asserted that he did not personally gain from the acts of which he is accused, notwithstanding the fact that he failed to report, or pay taxes on, rental income received from his Dominican Republic beach house. Rangel seems to believe that if you repeatedly say something, it becomes true, no matter how absurd.

We Welcome Charles Rangel Censure, But Criminal Prosecution Must Follow

Rangel & Holder photoToday's imminent censure of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is the result of Ethics Committee investigations that went much further than we expected, even after we exposed Rangel's failure to pay taxes on income from his Dominican Republic beach house and his acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets.

Rangel filed the ethics complaint against himself in late 2008. He no doubt expected the Committee to cover up for him, fulfilling the same role it has played during Rangel's 40 years in Congress. Rangel seems amazed that the accusations against him could result in his censure. Perhaps he feels betrayed by the Democratic leadership and the institution of Congress that traditionally has taken care of its own.

NLPC Alleges Rangel Illegally Used Leadership PAC Funds for Legal Defense

Rangel photoNLPC yesterday filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by using almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills related to the House Ethics Committee actions against him. The Committee yesterday referred a censure resolution to the entire House after earlier this month finding Rangel guilty of violating House rules on 11 counts. Click here to download an 11-page pdf of the Complaint.

As the Complaint points out:

Rep. Maxine Waters Trial Postponed in Light of New Evidence

Waters photoThe 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.

Will Ethics Committee Investigate New Allegation Against Maxine Waters?

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 Times reported 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. Gutierrez Accepted Free Home Upgrades from Tony Rezko

Gutierrez photoRep. 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.

Rangel Used Leadership PAC Funds for Legal Fees

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), whose House ethics trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow, used almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills to fend off corruption allegations. Rangel's ability to retain high-powered lawyers helped him delay the Ethics Committee action for more than two years, and push his trial past the election.

Rangel appears to have violated House rules. Members of Congress may use funds from their personal re-election committees for legal expenses related to their official actions. The National Leadership PAC is not Rangel's re-election committee but what is classified as a "leadership PAC," the purpose of which is make contributions to other candidates. Up to and during his tenure as Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rangel distributed hundreds of thousands to his colleagues, many of whom donated the money to charity as Rangel became an embarrassment.

Did SEIU Ballot Fraud Play Role in Harry Reid Re-Election?

Harry Reid photoVotes without voters - the notion seems like something from "The Twilight Zone." Yet this outcome, the result of a mysterious computer glitch, may have helped re-elect Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle, last week by a 50.2%-44.6% margin. Actually, the "mystery" is very likely the doing of a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which nationwide provides votes, money and muscle for the Democratic Party. Critics are charging that voting machines throughout Clark County (Las Vegas), where about three-fourths of Nevada's population resides, were rigged to place check marks next to Reid's name before a person even had voted. County officials insist that no tampering occurred. But the possibility can't be dismissed, especially given that one of Reid's sons is county commission chairman.

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