Democrat Dirty Laundry: Caesar Pelosi Says Let Rangel Live

September 2, 2009

Caesar Pelosi Says Let Rangel Live

Despite Rampant Corruption and Ongoing Ethics Investigation, Tax Cheat Still Presides Over Tax-Writing Committee


SPIN CYCLE: Speaker Pelosi Vowed To End a ‘Culture of Corruption,’ Restore Openness and Transparency to Washington


“Democrats declare that it is time to end the culture of corruption prevailing through all levels of government. We are committed to immediate change to lead this country in a new direction, to put an end to business as usual, and to make certain this nation’s leaders serve the people’s interests, not special interests. Our responsibility to our constituents and to our nation is to represent

all of the people, not just the powerful.” (Nancy Pelosi’s “A New Direction for America, Page 21).



RINSE CYCLE: Concerned About Setting ‘Bad Precedent’ for Ousting Blatantly Corrupt Colleagues, Pelosi Says Rangel Can Retain Chairmanship


Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will let Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) keep his chairmanship despite his failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on federal disclosure forms, according to Democratic aides.


The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s latest misstep has received strong media scrutiny and prompted good-government watchdog groups to call for a special counsel investigation.


Growing ethical turmoil surrounding Rangel has prompted calls for Pelosi to yank Rangel’s gavel.


But Democratic aides say that Pelosi will not pressure Rangel to resign his post or censure him publicly unless the House ethics committee finds him guilty of misconduct or a prosecutor brings charges.


Aides cited various reasons for Pelosi holding her fire.


First, she does not want to be seen as interfering with the ethics committee probe by stepping in before it reaches a conclusion.


“You do not want to undermine the bipartisan ethics committee process,” said a senior Democratic aide. “Under Republican control, the ethics panel has been broken for many years. Individuals on that committee are now committed to doing their jobs and they’re investigating all aspects.


“We don’t know where they are in the process,” the aide added.


In addition, the Speaker does not want to set the precedent of penalizing a colleague because of transgressions alleged in media reports. Rangel’s failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and income, including rental income from a Harlem townhouse, were covered in recent days by The New York Times, New York Post and other publications.


“There has to be more of a standard than that,” said a second Democratic aide in reference to those reports. “She is concerned about setting a bad precedent.”


Third, there is not an obvious successor on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over all tax issues.

There is also the danger of alienating members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), a large bloc of liberals in the Democratic Caucus. Many of them take pride in the fact that one of their members sits atop Ways and Means.

“If they can’t get their act together, then certainly the Democratic leadership should step in,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in reference to the ethics panel’s time-consuming probe.


“If you come in on a platform of cleaning up corruption, you can’t excuse members of your own caucus,” Sloan said of Democratic leaders. “It’s not sufficient to talk about the other party misdeeds; you have to hold your own party accountable, and the Democrats are really failing to do that.”

Rangel has attributed his accounting mistakes to sloppiness and has faulted the press for sensationalizing what he considers oversights.


That defense notwithstanding, political experts say that the controversy surrounding Rangel is a political liability for Democrats at a time when Congress’s approval rating hovers around 30 percent and some predict the party could lose 20 or more House seats.


“Parties get defined by members who are in the news,” said Darrell West, the director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. “If you have an ethical cloud surrounding certain individuals, opponents are going to use that to make the party look bad.” (Alexander Bolton, “Pelosi Will Let Rangel Hold Post Despite Latest Allegations,” The Hill, 9/1/09) 


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