Tag Archives: Cong. Charles Rangel

Are Black Lawmakers Targeted by the House Ethics Committee?

Okay, here are the numbers. Seven black members of the House of Representatives are the subjects of full blown probes by the House Ethics Committee. No white lawmakers have active probes underway at this time.

Zoe Lofgren, Chair House Ethics Committee
Zoe Lofgren, Chair House Ethics Committee

There would be eight, but the Justice Dept. asked the committee not to go forward with its investigation of Cong. Jesse Jackson Jr. That translates to 15% of the Congressional Black Caucus. Which leads to some loaded questions a lot of people won’t want to confront.

Maybe this breaks out in three possible scenarios. One, black lawmakers are the targets of ethics investigations based on race. Trust me, no one, not even the lawmakers caught up in this, will say so publicly for fear of being accused of using the dreaded “race card”.

Scenario number two, a higher percentage of black elected officials, at least the ones in Congress, are more corrupt than their white counterparts. No one in their right mind buys this (though few who aren’t might). And finally, some may argue its just the luck of the draw, that black lawmakers are the targets now, but white lawmakers will level the playing field down the road.

The committee itself muddied the waters by moving forward with two of the three cases referred to it by the newly minted Office of Congressional Ethics. This raised a few eyebrows because the cases turned into investigations were those of California Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson, both of whom are black. It may come as no surprise that the case that was dismissed was against Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, who is white.

Cong. Laura Richardson
Cong. Laura Richardson

Five other black members of Congress are facing scrutiny. Cong. Charles Rangel is the most publicized of the five, given his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee. Reps. Donald Payne, Carolyn Kilpatrick, Bennie Thompson, and Delegate Donna Christensen from the Virgin Islands are the others. All are being probed about whether corporate funds were improperly used to pay for their trips to the Caribbean to attend a trade conference.

Some of you may have read about a document leaked to the Washington Post that showed nearly three dozen House members are being looked at either by the Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics. That list had a number of white lawmakers on it, but none have faced full blown investigations but the black members mentioned above.

So what does all this mean? The House Ethics Committee isn’t talking, but one thing needs to be said. There is nothing wrong with asking whether a series of actions has a tinge of racial motivation. The answer may well be no, but for a lot of folks, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…….

What do you think? Are black lawmakers being unfairly targeted for ethics investigations?

BTW, as for Tuesday’s voting, I’ll write about that tomorrow.

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Will GOP Jihad Dethrone Charles Rangel?

Don’t bet on it. The Republicans have a two pronged approach to dealing with the Manhattan Congressman’s admitted bookkeeping lapses. On the one hand, they would revel in the chaos that would follow if they were successful in forcing him out as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. At the same time, they’d like nothing better than to use Congressman Rangel as a symbol or litmus test in next year’s congressional elections.

Neither will work. They’ve already tried to pass a resolution calling on Rangel to step down.

It failed miserably. Now, one of the congressmen leading the GOP jihad, John Carter of Texas, has had to admit to failing to disclose nearly $300,000 in profits from oil stock sales in 2006-2007.

Congressman John Carter, Texas
Congressman John Carter, Texas

While some might look at this as the height of hypocrisy, Carter and his friends in the House say they’ll press on trying to push Charles Rangel out as chair of Ways and Means.

As is typical when the pot calls the kettle black, Republicans try to differentiate between Carter’s failure to disclose and Rangel’s.

It doesn’t hold water, and they know it. But they press on, because in  the end they have little else to run on next year but the twin fears of Charlie Rangel and Barack Obama. Now be honest. Other than the nonsensical effort to insert health insurance co-ops in place of a public option, what new ideas have you heard from Congressional Republicans?

The answer is few if any. In fact, Charles Rangel has introduced and helped pass more legislation important to the American people than all his detractors combined.

Charles-Rangel

He has admitted to sloppy record keeping. It was Charles Rangel who asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate him, and it was Charles Rangel’s forensic accountants that found the tax and disclosure discrepancies in the first place.

So let John Boehner and John Carter do their worst. Charles Rangel has a distinguished history of service to his country (as a US marine) and his congressional district (take a walk through Harlem if you don’t believe me).

demchairs

The Ways and Means Committee is one of the most powerful in Congress. That’s why they’re trying to take Charlie Rangel down.

Expressions of support, now a whisper, will turn into a deafening roar. Republicans will have to come up with more than just nit-picking to explain their own ethical problems. And in the end, no matter what you think of the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, he’ll prevail.

That’s what I think. How about you?

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