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. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has formally opened a legal defense fund in an apparent acknowledgement of our accusation that he illegally used almost $400,000 in PAC funds for his legal defense. According to a statement Rangel made to Politics Daily:
The repeated filings of allegations, no matter how unsubstantiated, by the National Legal Policy Committee (sic), a politically-motivated right wing group dedicated to eviscerating civil rights and labor union protections, have led me to this action.
On November 29, we filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Rangel 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.
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.
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.
Benjamin Lesser of the New York Daily Newsreports 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."
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.
Today'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.