September 16, 2009

CORRUPT, BUT ORDERLY?:

Rapping Joe’s Knuckles (MAUREEN DOWD, 9/16/09, NY Times)

“When we are done here today,” said the man who accused the president of lying, “we will not have taken any steps to improve the country.”

Actually, Wilson is dead wrong again. When House Democrats, and a handful of Republicans, reprimanded the congressman on Tuesday evening for refusing to apologize to his colleagues for breaking the rules, it was quite a wonderful way to improve America.

It was a rare triumph for civility in a country that seems to have lost all sense of it — from music arenas to tennis courts to political gatherings to hallowed halls — and a ratification of an institution that has relied on strict codes of conduct for two centuries to prevent a breakdown of order.


Rangel picked up bad habits from Powell (Richard Cohen, September 16, 2009, Washington Post)
Rangel is now the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a man of immense importance in Washington. Nonetheless, he has been busy of late revising and amending the record, backing and filling, using buckets of Wite-Out as he discovers or remembers properties he has owned in New York, New Jersey, Florida and the Dominican Republic and God only knows where else — and has forgotten or neglected to fully report on the required forms, not to mention the income from them. Oops!

Rangel recently even discovered bank accounts that no one in the world, apparently including him, knew he had. One was with the Congressional Federal Credit Union, and another was with Merrill Lynch — each valued between $250,000 and $500,000. He somehow neglected to mention these accounts on his congressional disclosure forms, which means, if you can believe it, that when he signed the forms, he did not notice that maybe $1 million was missing. Someone ought to check the lighting in his office.

The dim bulb could also have accounted for why Rangel did not notice that he was soliciting contributions for the curiously named Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service on the congressional letterhead of the very same Charles B. Rangel. It may also account for why he failed to report dividend income from various investments in addition to what he made by selling a townhouse in Harlem. The place went for $410,000 in 2004, and had been rented — or not — to various people, who paid rent or didn't — since Rangel reported no income for years at a time. This is what he did, too, with the rent he earned on his Dominican Republic villa. Again, nada.

There is something wrong with Charlie Rangel. Either he did not notice that he was worth about twice as much as he said he was — which is downright worrisome in a congressional leader — or he thinks that he's above the law — which is downright worrisome in a congressional leader.


Will Ethics Problems Hurt Pelosi and the House Democrats in 2010? (Holly Bailey, 9/03/09, The Gaggle)
[D]oes this meet the standard Pelosi talked about when Democrats took control of the House and she bragged about ending a “culture of corruption” in Washington? In eyeing the Rangel situation, it’s hard not to remember the repeated calls by Pelosi and other Democratic leaders for DeLay to be ousted when he was under an ethics cloud for his ties to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and questionable fundraising tactics. “Ethically unfit,” Pelosi said of DeLay back in 2004. They also trashed the House GOP for its ties to lawmakers like Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney, who went to jail for taking bribes, and for the Abramoff scandal. If Rangel were Pelosi’s only problem, it would be one thing, but the ethics panel is currently looking into several Democrats, including another with close ties to Pelosi: Rep. Jack Murtha, chairman of the key Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. In June, the ethics committee announced it was looking into ties between lawmakers and the PMA Group, a lobbying firm with ties to Murtha, whose clients received millions of dollars in defense earmarks in recent years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2009 8:20 AM
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