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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Charles Rangel Violates Ethics Rules, Pelosi Refuses To Ask For Resignation

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.) claims he didn't know he was violating rules governing gifts that lawmakers can accept from corporations.

He claims he didn't see the memos his own aides sent to him on the topic, telling him he was violating ethics rules.

The House ethics committee says Rep. Charles Rangel's aides tried at least three times to show him that his Caribbean trips had corporate sponsors, but he denies seeing any of the written communications.

The ethics committee report released Friday is important in determining how aware Rangel was that he was receiving corporate gifts. The powerful Ways and Means Committee chairman says he did nothing wrong because his staff never told him about corporate sponsors.

The report says investigators could not determine whether Rangel, D-N.Y., saw two staff memos to him in 2008 and a letter addressed to him in 2007.

Rangel refuses to step aside as top House tax writer because of the report, which accuses him of violating rules governing gifts that lawmakers can accept.

Investigations are still outstanding as well on other issues:

Still looming is a much larger ethics investigation that focuses in part on Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for a college center in his name and also his belated financial disclosure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in previously unreported assets.

Even Democrats are calling for Rangel to step down:

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., became the first Democrat to suggest that Rangel should give up chairmanship of the committee, which originates not only tax laws but also benefit programs that now pay nearly half the costs for Americans' health care.

Taylor told reporters Rangel should "either step down or step aside until this is resolved."...

Taylor isn't the only Democrat asking for Rangel to step down either.

Via Politico:

After months of holding ranks, some Democrats are finally turning on House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in the wake of an ethics committee finding that he violated House rules by accepting a Caribbean junket.

Early Friday, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) told POLITICO he wants Rangel to quit his powerful committee post — and that was quickly followed by similar statements from a pair of deep south Democrats, Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor and Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to defend Rangel, but lawmakers like Hodes are calling for Rangel’s gavel.

"I honor and respect Charlie Rangel’s lifetime of service as a soldier serving our country in Korea and as a public servant. But Washington must be held to the highest ethical standards. Regrettably, with the finding of ethics violations, Charlie Rangel should step down from his leadership position.”

Others include Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor and Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright.

All this and Nancy Pelosi refuses to ask Rangel to step down from his chairmanship and still tries to claim that she is running an "ethical" congress.

When a reporter prefaced a question about Rangel by noting that Pelosi had promised to run the “most ethical and honest Congress in history” she interrupted him to say: “And we are.”

Watching things like this make me wonder if people like Pelosi are even aware of the reality of the situation and the political atmosphere around the Democrats in the House and Senate.