Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) disclosed on Friday that he accepted a third flight on a jet owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest donor, who is apparently under investigation for Medicare fraud. Last year, when Menendez was forced to admit to that he accepted two flights from Melgen, his office asserted that there were no more flights. Menendez' failure to reimburse Melgen was characterized as an "oversight," the same term his office used in reference to the first two flights.
A watchdog group continues to call on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to release documents from a four-year investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.). Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) previously filed Freedom of Information Act requests and administrative appeals seeking information about why the DOJ did not bring charges against Mollohan.
In 2006, the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) launched an investigation on Mollohan and his connections to five non-profit organizations he created that were managed by close friends and real estate partners.
A wealthy California developer with close ties to former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) was indicted today in a burgeoning corruption scandal in San Bernardino County. Jeffrey Burum, co-manager of Colonies Partners, was charged in a scheme to bribe county officials to approve a legal settlement favorable to Colonies. Click here to download a 27-page pdf of the indictment.
It’s official. The House Ethics Committee will not conduct trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-NY) until safely after the November 2 election. Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced yesterday that Rangel’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 15 and Waters’ on November 19.
Politics have trumped ethics in the final days of this Congress. Notwithstanding her pledge to “drain the swamp” and preside over the most ethical Congress ever, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply will not allow high-profile ethics trials during the campaign season. This delay is sure to backfire. A new poll shows that most voters believe Congressional ethics have gotten worse in the last two years. According to the Hill, which conducted the poll:
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) was defeated in a Democratic primary yesterday. Kilpatrick was one of six members of Congress investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee for accepting a corporate-sponsored Caribbean junket in November 2008. I attended the event in St. Maarten before organizers had me detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten. The investigations were launched on the basis of my photographs, audio recordings and other evidence of sponsorship by companies like Citigroup.
Even as Attorney General Eric Holder has defanged the Public Integrity section of the Justice Department, and snuffed out prosecutions of members of Congress, he claimed today in Paris that “combating corruption is one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice.”
Ironically, Holder’s remarks were delivered in support of international efforts to combat bribery. Holder bragged:
U.S. law enforcement has pursued bribe payers of all stripes: large corporations and small companies; powerful CEOs and low-level sales agents; U.S. companies and foreign issuers; citizens and foreign nationals; direct payers and intermediaries.
Steven 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.
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.
Rep. 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.
The Justice Department has confirmed that it has ended its investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). The probe began after NLPC filed a Complaint with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. in February of 2006 alleging that Mollohan failed to report millions in assets on his Financial Disclosure Form (FDR) in order to conceal cozy financial relationships with recipients of earmarks he had arranged.
The closing of the four-year probe by the Justice Department comes after Mollohan voted for Barack Obama’s unpopular health care plan. Has Attorney General Eric Holder now made it legal for members of Congress to earmark money to their business partners? This is a horrible precedent.
In the uproar that followed our original allegations, Mollohan “temporarily” resigned as ranking Democrat on the Ethics Committee. I doubt that Nancy Pelosi will now try to put him back. Even she realizes that Mollohan represents everything the public loathes about Congress. Holder's letting him off the hook is sure to further inflame anti-incumbent resentment.