Democrat Dirty Laundry: The 'Most Ethical Congress in History' to Fend Off Corruption Charges in 2010

December 11, 2009

The ‘Most Ethical Congress in History’ to Fend Off Corruption Charges in 2010

Democrats Stand Knee-Deep in a Swamp of Corruption After a Series of Ethical Transgressions


SPIN CYCLE:Democrats Promised to ‘Drain the Swamp’ and Sweep Corruption out of Washington


“‘Drain the swamp’ means to turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history. That’s my pledge — that is what I intend to do,’ Pelosi stated in an interview with NBC’s  Brian Williams.” (Brian Williams, “Rep. Pelosi poised to make history”, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, 11/08/2006)


RINSE CYCLE: Democrats on the Defense for 2010 After a Series of Ethical Transgressions


The House ethics committee investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is likely to extend well into 2010, according to sources familiar with the probe, meaning that the fate of the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee could become a major political issue for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and the Democratic leadership during a difficult election year.


The committee’s investigation of Rangel’s personal finances, now 14 months old, has dragged on far longer than both Pelosi and Rangel had hoped. Pelosi predicted in late 2008 that it would be over by the end of that year or early 2009. Now sources familiar with the Rangel probe say the investigation could continue into February or March.


The veteran New York lawmaker is the most prominent — but hardly the only — Democrat facing ethical questions.


Recently, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi has had to deny allegations that he used his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee to help raise campaign contributions.


In addition, the Justice Department is continuing its criminal investigation into Democratic lawmakers’ dealings with the PMA Group, a now-defunct lobbying firm that specialized in winning multimillion-dollar spending earmarks from the Appropriations Committee for its clients.


Rep. Pete Visclosky of Indiana, a senior member of the Appropriations panel, and his former top aide Charles Brimmer were issued subpoenas as part of that investigation earlier this year. The DOJ probe is ongoing, according to multiple sources.



This wave of ethics problems for Capitol Hill Democrats makes GOP strategists optimistic that they can do to Democrats what was done to Republicans in 2006: paint a picture of a majority party corrupted by its own power.



Rangel has also been accused of using his congressional office to help raise funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York, as well as helping a million-dollar donor to that center retain a lucrative tax break. Rangel has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.


With editorial writers across the country calling for Rangel’s head, Republican leaders have tried on several occasions to push through a resolution calling for Rangel to be stripped of the Ways and Means gavel.


But Pelosi and other Democratic leaders — under pressure from the Congressional Black Caucus — have stuck with Rangel, leaving him atop the panel despite the ethics controversy surrounding him. (John Bresnahan, “Ethics probes may saddle Democrats in 2010,” Politico, 12/11/2009)


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