Pete Stark: Too Much For The House Democratic Caucus

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 4, 2010

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Yeah, imagine having this guy as the chairman of the tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives:

Rep. Sander Levin will take over as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee after Rep. Pete Stark, who held the gavel for a day, stepped aside.

The dominoes fell after Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) resigned the chairmanship of the powerful tax-writing panel Wednesday as Republicans and many Democrats were moving to oust him following an ethics committee ruling that found he violated House gift rules.

Levin, who had been chairman of the trade subcommittee, will helm the panel through the end of this Congress — barring the unlikely return of Rangel.

Officially, Stark stepped aside to keep the gavel of the panel’s health subcommittee. But lawmakers and aides said Stark faced a rebellion within the committee and the caucus over his sometimes bizarre behavior and penchant for making offensive comments.

Just in case you needed a reminder concerning the nature of those comments . . .

Stark, 78, was in trouble from the beginning with his potential chairmanship. He was ensnared in an ethics investigation into claims he tried to obtain a tax exemption for Maryland residents though his main residence is in California. In an interview with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Stark alternatively denied and admitted that he had applied for the tax exemption. He was eventually absolved by the ethics committee.

He has also long been known to grab the spotlight with bizarre and often offensive comments. He called former Connecticut Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson a “whore for the insurance industry” and said she got her information from “pillow talk.” He said Jewish members of Congress were a cause of the Gulf War.

More recently, he accused Republicans of sending soldiers to Iraq “to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

I try to keep this a family-friendly site, so I will content myself by stating that via my inside voice, obscenities directed at Stark abound.

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