Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2010

Brownback named in complaint about C Street House; spokesman denies the allegation

April 1, 2010, 1:35 p.m. Updated April 1, 2010, 1:35 p.m.


— U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., violated congressional gift rules, a government watchdog group alleged in a complaint Thursday. Brownback’s spokesman called the complaint “baseless.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C., filed complaints Thursday with congressional ethics committees alleging eight congressmen, including Brownback, received improper gifts by paying below market rent at a Capitol Hill townhouse, known as the C Street House.

Citing news reports, CREW says Brownback, a candidate for Kansas governor, and other congressional residents paid about $950 per month for lodging and housekeeping, while similar accommodations in the area ranged from $1,700 to $4,000 per month.

The C Street House is owned by a group that is affiliated with the Fellowship, CREW said, which it described as “a shadowy religious organization.”

House and Senate rules prohibit lodging as a gift. “As only members of Congress appear to live in the C Street House, it seems likely that it is because of their positions that they are permitted to live there and are offered below market rent,” CREW said.

CREW describes itself as a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government.

CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said, “At a time when so many Americans are losing their housing it is surprising to discover that some members of Congress are lucky enough to have a landlord that charges below market rent for fairly luxurious accommodations — and offers housekeeping and meal service to boot.

“Rarely does someone — particularly a member of Congress — receive something for nothing, so you can’t help but wonder exactly what these members may be doing in return for all of this largess. Of course, this is the reason the gift ban was enacted in the first place. This situation cries out for an immediate ethics inquiry.”

But Brian Hart, a spokesman for Brownback, denied the allegations.

He said, “Brownback lives with his wife and kids in Topeka and commutes to Washington to vote in the Senate. When he is in DC, he stays at a condo that he bought in 2003. He stayed in the group house for less than a year several years ago after his place burned down and before he found his current apartment. The complaint is baseless, a quick Craigslist search shows that the rent is on par with the market.”

In addition to Brownback, who is the leading Republican candidate for governor in Kansas, the complaint names Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and John Ensign, R-Nev., and U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., Heath Shuler, D-N.C., Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.

A spokesman for Coburn said the rent covers a furnished room and shared bathroom. It does not include meals, housekeeping or parking and is therefore in line with market prices.

Doyle and Stupak said they no longer live in the house but that while there, the rent was fairly assessed.


staff04 8 years, 1 month ago

"The complaint is baseless, a quick Craigslist search shows that the rent is on par with the market."

Having lived right down the street from these fine folks at one point, I can say that this comment is absurd. Yes, one CAN find a room in a group house for $950/month in the Capitol Hill neighborhood...but NOTHING like the C Street house these guys live in.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 1 month ago

Just write "Rangel Rule" on the report & send it back.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 8 years, 1 month ago

What a bunch of bulls***. Brownback is one of the most religious, trustworthy senators we have ever had. Now that he is running for governor these people drag up all these baseless allegations. I hope he wins, he will be one of the best governors this state has ever had if elected. We are surely voting for him, as we vote against any and every democrat we can find. Speaking of which, if you want to know what they are trying to do to our homes, look at HR 2452, and hang onto your butt and your house. Thank you, Lynn

sweetiepie 8 years, 1 month ago

Just because he's religious, doesn't mean he doesn't do unethical things. Look at the Pope.

William Cormode 8 years, 1 month ago


When you said "as we vote against any and every democrat we can find" you paint yourself as one of the reasons our country is in this situation. That tells me that you could care less about issues or ethics. You do no research you just check R. Vote the candidates not the party.

somedude20 8 years, 1 month ago

Lynn731 (anonymous) says… "We are surely voting for him, as we vote against any and every democrat we can find"

Rather than vote on substance you just vote for "your" party. That is a very scary and ignorant outlook to have! I am a Dem but more than a few times, I have voted for another party as they had the best candidate.

People who vote the way you do (sure democrats do it too) are a large reason why things are so f-ed in politics. Epic Fail!

Larry Bauerle Jr. 8 years, 1 month ago

This was brought up several years ago. If this is the best CREW can do, they aren't working very hard.

happy_go_lucky 8 years, 1 month ago

Lynn as others have said, it is your ignorance that has lead the US into the situation it is in now. Be ashamed.

bad_dog 8 years, 1 month ago

Yo, Lynn. The article was about more than just Brownback and his gubernatorial aspirations. This was an allegation from a political watchdog group-not a criminal indictment. In addition, take note of the fact that of the eight Congressional representatives named as potential ethical violators, 3 are Democrats.

If the criticism is unwarranted, the truth will out. If it has any basis, then the chips will fall where they may.

As noted above, Brownbacks' outward religious demeanor doesn't necessarily infer trustworthiness, honesty, upright moral character, etc. To believe this simply on the basis he girds his loins with religious issues and agendas is naive, IMHO.

Given your apparent blind allegiance to anyone that talks a good religious game, it's not much of a surprise to see a similar lack of analysis on the political front.

Maddy Griffin 8 years, 1 month ago

Phred Phelps is religious to but I wouldn't vote for him either.

Paul R Getto 8 years, 1 month ago

Sam got a sweetheart deal on his rent. That doesn't bother me as much as his assertions that his invisible friend is talking to him and telling him and his buddies in the C street house how to save America and the rest of the world. We just finished 8 years of a fella who did that, and his skygod talked us into a couple of pointless wars. Don't need more of that, IMHO.

David Albertson 8 years, 1 month ago

Wow, I'm suprised! Another crooked Republican. What a shock.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 1 month ago

What's really creepy is The Family. They are pretty much a cult for the rich and powerful. They believe that having wealth and power indicates that you are chosen by god. Having been chosen, you can do no wrong. They point to King David as an example; he lusted after a woman and sent her husband of to his death so he could have her. But it was OK 'cause he was rich and powerful, see? That's why so many of these C Street guys have been caught with their pants down. I worries me that Brownback has anything to do with these people.

kansaspachyderm 8 years, 1 month ago

This group, CREW, has been a little busy lately. And the MSM doesn't seem to mind being a party to this "Guilt by Accusation" ploy. Check out their accusations against Freedom Alliance, the group that provides scholarships for the kids of soldiers that have been killed or severely injured in service to our country. Investigate it a little before you form your opinion--and don't quit because you need to dig deeper to get a better idea. Here's some help to get you started:

Cindy Yulich 8 years, 1 month ago

The LJWorld banner and this headline just made MSNBC......

BigPrune 8 years, 1 month ago

CREW recieved financial support from George Soros's Open Society Institute.

Why does crap like this make it to the newspaper? I had to look them up since they have "Ethics" in their name.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Trustworthy and honest Brownback? After 16 years of accepting special interest money while in Washington D.C.

Can anyone substantiate this honest and trustworthy thing with more than opinion?

Exactly what did Brownback accomplish?

BigPrune 8 years, 1 month ago

CREW has received financial backing from George Soros's Open Society Institute, Democracy Alliance, the Tides Foundation, the Streisand Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the David Geffen Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, the Mayberg Family Charitable Foundation, the Woodbury Fund, and the Sheller Family Foundation -- all institutions distinguished by their support for far-left causes.

CREW's Executive Director is Melanie Sloan, a longtime Democrat operative who previously served as Nominations Counsel for Joe Biden's Senate Judiciary Committee (1993); Counsel for the Crime Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee for Charles Schumer (1994); Minority Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee under John Conyers (1995-1998); and Assistant U.S. District Attorney for the District of Columbia (1998-2003).

Other CREW officials have similarly deep ties to the political Left.

THAT pretty much says it all in regards to their "ethics."

emptymind 8 years, 1 month ago

Brownback is a multi-millionaire, so even the mention of his name in this is disgusting. Whether it is true or not will come out eventually, but anyone with that much power and money would be wise to shine a brighter light, IMHO.

Richard Heckler 8 years, 1 month ago

Nothing substantiated thus far.

What do repubs want taxpaying voters to forget?

1.As a result of 9/11/01 close to 11,000 americans have died so how many more is okay?

2.If massive death, blood and guts represent democracy why would others be interested?

3.What did repubs do with the bailout money?

  1. Why did repubs put 11 million americans out of work YET are living off of retirement benefits including medical care courtesy of the USA taxpayers?

  2. Why do repubs sit back and knowingly watch large financial instututions fail?

6.Why did both Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney experience super financial meltdowns under their watch which put millions out of work and tons of retirement plans went up in smoke?

  1. Do 5 and 6 represent a true coincidence or is a matter of criminal activity?

  2. Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail with Jeb Bush and cousin George Walker on the payroll..... what's up with that?

Some interesting financial history:

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 1 month ago

What a stinging indictment, Prune-- people who disagree with you politically make charges you don't like, and that's all you need to hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

dinglesmith 8 years, 1 month ago

One must never confuse piety with righteousness...

Mixolydian 8 years, 1 month ago

“a shadowy religious organization.”


Like the Bilderberg group? The Illuminati"? The Tri-lateral commission?"

oh noooo. The Joos?

Conspiracy folks of any stripe are boring.

pace 8 years, 1 month ago

Brownback has been caught with his hand in the till. No surprise. Rent subsidies for the man who has backed his "special" friends over the people of Kansas over and over again.

christy kennedy 8 years, 1 month ago

Nope. Not a church.

If it is, then, hallelujah, my house is church—where do I file for tax-exempt status?

And it was a group of 13 Ohio pastors who filed the complaint with the IRS. Not prompted by a "political and religious bias" as one brave (har, har) anonymous "close to C Street" source told Maddow . . . Pretty much a right and wrong kind of ethical thing. Sheesh.

Jimo 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm less impressed by a Congressional ethics investigation as Congress will have no authority over Brownback after he leaves office.

The surprise for many will come when the U.S. Attorney indicts Brownback for tax fraud.

You see there's this little problem with paying only a few hundred a month for something worth thousands per month. This place isn't just "a house" it is a luxury residence. If Sam "forgot" to put down the $20-30,000 in value received by his cushy rent scheme as income on his tax form ....... Boom, welcome to Leavenworth (and not as Kansas Governor).

Ditto ... Moran.

Question: will Brownback pardon Scott Roeder before being forced out?

ralphralph 8 years, 1 month ago

The story tells us that CREW describes itself as a non-profit organization, etc., etc. Is that really what it is? I don't know, and have never heard of them. I note that it doesn't say non-PARTISAN, so would be a red flag. One of the first things I learned in school is that WHO is speaking is often more important than WHAT they are saying. It is irresponsible reporting just to take the word of someone making an accusation and not to investigate and tell us who it is that we are hearing. Hack job.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 1 month ago

CREW has a good record of lambasting Dems and Repub where warranted. Go to their web site. Their list of 15 most corrupt in Congress is 8 D and 7 R.

ralphralph 8 years, 1 month ago

... I didn't want to go to their website; I wanted the news story to inform me.

Sparko 8 years, 1 month ago

I like the fact that lobbyists and other diaper-wearing GOP power brokers lived together in a cabal dedicated to exploiting the little people who sent them to Congress. Craigslist indeed. . .

HMcMellon 8 years, 1 month ago

Brownback pretends to be a Christian and a Republican, but his values are the opposite. His loyalty is to big corporate lobbyists who hide under labels of religious organizations. If he were elected governor, do not expect him to help small business or farmers. He has worked for years to undermine Main Street in favor of Wall Street. The same big corps that he's been giving our tax dollars are now paying him back with our money by financing his campaign. Brownback has screwed the Middle Class and small busines the entire time he's been in Washington. He's did a little better this past year in order to get votes, and has a grade of C, but up until this year, he has been getting Fs with respect to supporting the Middle Class.

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