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:
In recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.
Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee's ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is supposed to be conducting a trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on the 13 violations of House rules the Committee alleged on July 29. There is also supposed to be a trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Instead, Lofgren played host on Friday to comedian Stephen Colbert who testified “in character” on the plight of migrant farm workers before a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that Lofgren also chairs. I thought Colbert was actually pretty funny but other reviews were mixed.
So much for draining the swamp. Several sources report that the House will not try Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) until after the November 2 elections. Rangel won the Democratic primary for his seat yesterday, barely achieving 50% of the vote against five challengers. During his House floor speech on August 10 when he was not attacking NLPC, Rangel pleaded for an expedited hearing on the 13 charges leveled against him by the Ethics Committee. This followed months of maneuvering by Rangel to delay the investigation.
David Kocieniewski reports in the New York Times that former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (at right with Rangel) owned stock in Nabors Industries at the time he introduced the company’s CEO Eugene Isenberg to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). Isenberg made a $1 million pledge to the so-called Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York (CCNY) while Rangel helped preserve a tax break for Nabors worth hundreds of millions.
Isabel Vincent and Ginger Adams Otis report in today’s New York Post that New York City has cut off funding for Alianza Dominicana, a nonprofit group for which Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) secured a $2.6 million federal earmark in June. In addition, the Post reports that Alianza Dominicana, which is Spanish for Dominican Alliance, is now the subject of a probe by the Department of Investigation (DOI), the City’s version of the FBI.
Last week, NLPC filed a Complaint with the House Ethics Committee against Rangel detailing his involvement with Alianza and its CEO Moises Perez. Alianza is an ACORN-like community action group for Dominicans that has become politically powerful after gorging on taxpayer funds for 25 years. As reported in the New York Post last Sunday, the group is facing a host of financial problems, including a failure to pay state and federal taxes. Click here to download a 10-page pdf of the Complaint.
The Complaint focuses on Rep. Rangel's efforts to direct millions of dollars in taxpayers' money to a politically well-connected but financially unstable nonprofit called Alianza Dominicana. Rangel's relationship with the controversial group based in New York City was the subject of a front page story in the Sunday August 8, 2010 New York Post.
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.