"Most Ethical Congress in History"

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 23, 2010

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That was Nancy Pelosi’s promise in the 2006 midterms. This is the reality:

A House ethics subcommittee announced Thursday that it found that Rep. Charles B. Rangel violated congressional ethics rules and that it will prepare for a trial, probably beginning in September. The panel is expected to make the details of his alleged violations public next Thursday.

Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been under the House ethics committee’s microscope since early 2008 after it was reported that he may have used his House position to benefit his financial interests. Two of the most serious inquiries have focused on Rangel’s failure to declare $239,000 to $831,000 in assets on his disclosure forms, and on his effort to raise money for a private center named after him at City College of New York using his congressional letterhead.

In March, Rangel reluctantly stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee — a week after the ethics panel ruled in a separate case that he had broken congressional gift rules by accepting trips to conferences in the Caribbean that were financed by corporate interests. The panel said that, at a minimum, Rangel’s staff knew about the corporate backing for the 2007 and 2008 trips — and that the congressman was therefore responsible.

Of course, Rangel was protected for as long as possible by Pelosi, and the Democratic leadership. This entire sordid affair has dragged on for as long as it has because the leadership tried not to face facts concerning Rangel’s myriad violations of the ethics rules. He was only cast to the winds when it became politically embarrassing for the Democratic leadership to continue backing him.

Ethical behavior is supposed to occur without coercion. In Charlie Rangel’s case, it took moving Heaven and Earth to get the House Democratic leadership to act “ethically.” If this is their idea of good government, I would hate to see bad government in action.

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