House Ethics Committee

Two House Ethics Committee Members Tainted by Rangel Cash

Ben ChandlerThe eight members of the House Ethics Committee sit in judgment on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), but it is hard to see how at least two of them can be impartial when they have received campaign funds from Rangel’s National Leadership PAC.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY), in photo, received two contributions of $5,000 each during the 2004 election cycle, on 12/15/03 and 1/20/04.  Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC) received contributions of $1,000 and $2,000 during the 2004 cycle, on 6/29/04 and  7/13/04 respectively.

House Ethics Committee Charges Charles Rangel

Rangel photoThe House Ethics Committee announced today that its subcommittee investigating allegations against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has “transmitted a Statement of Alleged Violation” to the Committee Chair and Ranking Republican, and formed an “adjudicatory subcommittee” to consider them. In other words, they have alleged that Rangel violated House rules, and now another subcommittee will try Rangel and determine guilt and the penalty, if any.

NLPC is the source of the most damaging allegations against Rangel, particularly his failure to disclose or pay taxes on rental income from his beach house in the Dominican Republic. Rangel has admitted that he did not report or disclose $75,000 but we have alleged in Complaints to the IRS and U.S. Attorney for D.C. that the total is likely much higher. NLPC is also the source of the information on which the Committee admonished Rangel earlier this year for accepting corporate-funded Caribbean junkets. Following his admonishment, Rangel resigned from his Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Testy Meeks Disclosed Loan Only After FBI Inquiry

Meeks photoAccording to the New York Daily News today:

Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks made no payments for three years on a secret $40,000 personal loan - and repaid the cash only when the FBI started asking questions…

Meeks received a check for $40,000 from Queens businessman Ed Ahmad in January 2007 to finish paying off his new $830,000 home, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Meeks first disclosed the loan on his financial disclosure report that all members of Congress were required to file by May 17 for the preceding 2009 calendar year. Meeks filed late on June 15. Click here to download a 5-page pdf of the report. The Ahmad loan was made in 2007, meaning Meeks failed to disclose it on his 2007 and 2008 forms.

What is Rep. Gregory Meeks Hiding?

Meeks photoRep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is one of 31 House conferees appointed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) on the financial regulation bill. When he was named on June 9, Meeks claimed:

As conferee I plan to make sure that by having a strong presence of financial oversight and accountability in this legislation U.S. consumers will have the necessary financial protection and be as financially informed as possible.

But now Meeks is using “oversight” in a different context. You see, when he failed to disclose $55,000 in personal loans as required, he called it an “oversight.” This excuse sounded downright familiar to us. It is the same one cited by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) when he failed to report hundreds of thousands in income and assets.

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.

House Ethics Office Sends PMA Case to Justice Department

The Office of Congressional Ethics voted unanimously last week to ask the U.S. Justice Department to review documents in the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme.

The OCE, a bipartisan board created by congress and composed of private citizens, released a statement of May 27 saying that it would send the Justice Department "evidence [that] pertains to a factual finding by the OCE Board that certain persons and companies saw their campaign donations as affecting decisions about earmarks."

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.

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.

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.

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