Ethics charges against Rangel revealed – PLUS: Pelosi claims “swamp-draining” success!

Certainly looks like it, according to the NYT:

WASHINGTON — In laying out 13 charges of ethical violations committed by Representative Charles B. Rangel, the House ethics committee set the stage for a rare public trial of the Democratic Congressman this fall, a potential embarrassment for the Democratic leadership during the election season.

The unveiling of the charges Thursday came even as Mr. Rangel’s lawyers suggested they were trying to reach a settlement to avoid such a fate for Mr. Rangel, 80, a Harlem Democrat.

Ethics committee members appeared somber on Thursday, expressing fondness for Mr. Rangel even as they issued the stinging report, which states that Mr. Rangel’s “actions reflected poorly on the institution of the House and, thereby, brought discredit to the House.”

Mr. Rangel did not appear at the meeting on Thursday, but issued a written response denying “each and every allegation” and criticizing the committee’s report as “deeply flawed in its factual premises and legal theories.”

In the 40-page report, the committee said it substantiated the major charges that had been hanging over Mr. Rangel for two years: that he improperly used his office to solicit donations for a school to be named in his honor; failed to pay taxes on and report rental income from his Dominican villa; filed incomplete financial disclosure forms; and improperly accepted from a Manhattan developer rent-stabilized apartments, one of which he used as a campaign office.

But while those alleged infractions had been widely reported, the committee unearthed new details about Mr. Rangel’s conduct. The committee said Mr. Rangel not only reached out to corporate executives seeking contributions to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College, but he also personally sought donations from registered lobbyists whose corporations had business before Congress. In some cases, Mr. Rangel asked for contributions of as much as $30 million from businesses with issues before the Ways and Means Committee, of which he was the chairman until March.

“Reasonable persons could construe contributions to the Rangel Center by persons with interests before the Ways and Means Committee as influencing the performance of Respondent’s governmental duties,” the report stated, saying it violated the Congressional Code of Ethics.

In addition, Mr. Rangel, when he secured a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign operation at the Lenox Terrace development in Harlem, signed an application saying that the apartment would be the primary residence for his son, Steven Rangel, and not be used for business purposes, the report said. Steven Rangel never lived in the apartment, and the committee said the developer, the Olnick Organization, included Mr. Rangel on a “special handling list,” apparently for V.I.P.’s, and did not take action against him even as it cracked down on other tenants whose apartments were not being used as primary residences.

The report suggested that, after 20 terms in Congress, Mr. Rangel had come to rely on his government-paid staff for activities unrelated to his Congressional work.

Mr. Rangel and his lawyers will now be given several weeks to review the evidence against him, meaning that a trial is unlikely to begin until September, the heart of the Congressional campaign season.

Pelosi, of course, is using this battle to try to claim – in an election year – that she and her party have indeed “drained the swamp” she promised to drain back in … 2006:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California declined to speak out in support of Mr. Rangel, but said the committee’s handling of his case was proof that Democrats had delivered on her promise to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s dodgy political culture.

“Drain the swamp we did, as this was a terrible place,” Ms. Pelosi said. “We made a tremendous difference, and I take great pride in that.”

LOL – but Pelosi’s insinuation back in 2006 was that she was going to drain the “GOP” swamp. Her promise didn’t include “draining the House” of any Democrat in the “swamp,” because at the time she was talking about her pledge, she was trying to draw a distinction between GOP corruption and Dem corruption – as if it really made a difference. From a 2006 USA Today piece:

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California sought to distinguish her party’s foibles from the scandals that brought down Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., for bribery and three former Republican congressional aides who had ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, a Republican, pleaded guilty in January to corruption charges.

“You’re talking about two completely different things,” Pelosi said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press. The Democratic ethics cases are “individual challenges that those people will have to deal with,” she said, noting that she has called for the House ethics committee to investigate Jefferson. Republicans, she charged, have a system of “corruption, cronyism and incompetence” that goes beyond personal indiscretions.

Translation: They may be corruptocrats, but they’re OUR corruptocrats, and we’ll keep them, thank you very much.

Keep them, that is, until your back is against the wall and you’re forced into looking like you’re “doing something about it” — right in the middle of an election year.

Oh, wait – is she saying her promise was a “bipartisan” one to “drain the swamp”? If so, what happened to corruptocrats like John Murtha, Jon Conyers, Alan Mollohan, and William Jefferson? None ever faced serious rebuke by Democrats in the House. Murtha would still be there if he weren’t dead. Conyers is still doing what he does best (worst, actually), Jefferson was voted out of office in a special election, and the 14-term Mollohan merely had to step down from the Ethics Committee (and has, in effect, been voted out by Democrats in his constituency via a primary back in May). Big whoop.

She hasn’t really “drained” anything – except her credibility (what little she had).

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