Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Of Ganders, Geese And Unspeakable Corruption In Congress


Did you read this editorial about the ongoing culture of corruption in DC in today's NY Times?
More questions are being raised about the doubtful ethics of Representative Wally Herger of California, who, after the retirement of GOP closet case Jim McCrery, is scheduled to take over as ranking minority member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. The latest sniff of scandal-- a breakfast meeting with a donor seeking tax protection-- provides more grist for the House ethics inquiry that’s supposed to be under way into Mr. Herger’s tangled affairs.

According to a report in the Times on Tuesday, Mr. Herger, a far right nut case on the lunatic fringe of his party, breakfasted last year with a major donor to his pet legacy: a school of marriage counseling at the Mormon Bible College in Yuba City that will bear Mr. Herger’s name. The donor, an oil-drilling executive, says he then escorted the NRA fanatic across the dining room of the Carlyle Hotel to meet his company’s waiting lobbyist-- a special pleader intent on protecting an off-shore tax loophole.

As events progressed, the loophole was protected, the donor pledged $1 million to the Herger school and the principals deny that there was any quid pro quo.

Are you ready to sign a petition to have Herger expelled from the House-- or at least investigated. Look at this fanatic, extremist right-wing voting record. The country would be so much better off without him. And this is hardly his first or only brush with ethical improprieties. I even had one with him myself when he came closer than comfortable to soliciting a bribe!

Oh, I didn't mean Herger. I actually meant the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee-- and so did the Times.

Mr. Rangel also says he has no recollection of the lobbyist breakfast encounter, while company officials say it involved only a few minutes and ended with Mr. Rangel restating his opposition to closing the loophole.

Nevermind that the congressman had earlier denounced the boondoggle for costing taxpayers tens of millions annually. He maintains he since concluded that a change would amount to an unfair retroactive tax increase. The Times’s David Kocieniewski reports that congressional colleagues were shocked by the reversal.

We hope that Speaker Nancy Pelosi is shocked into action. She should insist that the ethics investigation move forward-- and that Mr. Rangel relinquish his chairmanship during the inquiry. If Mr. Rangel continues to resist, the speaker should permanently reassign the gavel. In a deep economic crisis, the committee, and the country, cannot afford the distraction.

And Pete Stark, one of the most forward-thinking and progressive members of Congress-- and far, far more progressive than Rangel, I might add-- would take over running the committee. Rangel's ethics problems are getting in the way of the important work that Ways and Means is doing-- some of it by Rangel-- and it is giving the Republicans plenty of ammunition to paint the Democratic Party with the same brush that has been so effectively used on corrupt Republicans.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of the nonpartisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that Democratic House leaders were eroding their credibility by failing to address Mr. Rangel’s behavior.

“Representative Rangel’s ethics problems continue to mount, yet the ethics committee and the Democratic leadership remain silent,” she said. “Members of Congress often seem to believe that rules are for other people, and sadly, the ethics committee does nothing to correct that assumption,” she said. “It is long past time for Representative Rangel to be called to account for his repeated ethics violations.”

Rangel will be 80 in 2010 and he's been representing NY-15 since 1971. Despite his shameful record on corporate trade policies, he's given this country a great deal of valuable service. He should start thinking about retiring. Pelosi claims she wants to read the Ethics Committee report first and that it will be in her hands by January 3.

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At 7:24 AM, Blogger foxofbama said...

Great blog on John Buchanan back in September. I just now came across it and linked it a progressive Baptist site where I am doing battle with a legacy of the man who defeated Buchanan, Albert Lee Smith.
A right wing fundamentalist Baptist preacher in Bham, CB Scott who has his own easily googled blog, CB Scott report; has gone awol trying to sabotage Obama's presidency out of the gates demagoguing the FOCA matter.
Please Bring Buchanan's attention to the matter next time you see him.


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