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Opinion

Opinion

Ethics probes aren’t about race

August 4, 2010

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There’s a troubling story line to the ethics travails faced by Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Both The Post and Politico ran stories Monday that highlight concern that African American lawmakers are facing added scrutiny. Some would say they are being targeted. And I would say that’s absolutely ridiculous.

First, it should be pointed out that neither Rangel nor Waters has made this claim. Nor has there been an official statement to this effect by the Congressional Black Caucus. I acknowledge that CBC member and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., gave the theory some credence on “Morning Joe” on Monday. And an anonymous caucus member told Politico that there is a “dual standard, one for most members and one for African Americans.”

As an African American, I know and understand the sensitivity to unfair prosecution and persecution of blacks in the court of law and the court of public opinion. The reflex to speak against a rush to judgment is as innate as flinching from fire. But there are times when that sensitivity can blind us to very real questions that have nothing to do with race. In the cases of Rangel and Waters, I have to agree with a Twitter posting by NBC News political director Chuck Todd. Their troubles have to do with “entrenched entitlement.”

Rangel has held his Harlem congressional seat for 40 years. Waters has represented south-central Los Angeles for nearly 20 years. To read the alleged violations by Rangel and Waters is to go into a familiar world of power, access and perks. Rules of conduct were established to guard against abuse and excess. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., formed the Office of Congressional Ethics in 2008 as part of her promise to drain the swamp of corruption in Washington. That two powerful, high-ranking and highly regarded members of her party are facing rigorous scrutiny shows that Pelosi meant business. Thankfully, a misguided effort by Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, to weaken that office has gone nowhere.

The proceedings of the ethics committee are supposed to be secret. Only when charges are filed do they become public. But journalists and good-government organizations, such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), make it their business to keep the public informed. In fact, CREW has an “Under Investigation” Web site that chronicles the allegations against House and Senate members and where things stand. If you look there, you will see that the ethics committee is an equal-opportunity investigator.

Comments

jmadison 4 years, 7 months ago

Sen. Dodd had sweetheart mortgages while he was supposedly writing legislation regulating the financial industry. He remained in power without any substantial ethical investigations. Sen. Dodd is a member of the good ole boys club known as the US Senate.

jaywalker 4 years, 7 months ago

http://gretawire.blogs.foxnews.com/sen-john-ensigns-affair-ugh/ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/18/grand-jury-reportedly-issues-subpoenas-ensign-probe/ http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,527272,00.html http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/03/11/ensign-tried-work-ex-lovers-husband-report-claims/ http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/10/04/gop-senator-offers-support-embattled-ensign/

Actually, he is facing ethics charges, Vertigo. And as you can see above, Fox has reported on it all. If you're thinking it's not to the level of Rangel's press, you're probably right, but then Rangel's misdeeds far outweigh Ensign's indiscretions which are more on a personal matter than anything else.

I do agree with your opener, though, and find it nauseating that 'race' even has to be brought up simply because one or two players are black.

jaywalker 4 years, 7 months ago

Don't know what you're sayin' "No"to; didn't think you cared about race. And if you check those links at least one is within the last week or so. But since you want to compare these two different cases and coverage, Rangel's is ongoing and vast whereas Ensign's affair is more than a year old and fairly inconsequential apart from him being morally weak and reprehensible for toying with two families. That being said, I still find it suspect you'd have any idea what the Fox network is reporting. Watch them on a regular basis, do you?

jaywalker 4 years, 7 months ago

Point taken as to Fox then. I don't watch Fox with the exception of O'Reilly from time to time, but those links above were quick to find so they're not turning a blind eye. And I use the word 'inconsequential' in relation to Rangel. We're talking 25k versus millions, not that I'm sticking up for Ensign's behavior in any way. But you''re wondering why one's gettin' more play when it's not that difficult to note the severity of one over the other.

jaywalker 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm with ya on all that, though the last part seems unrealistic considering the bedfellows they lie with will probably be there to take care of 'em in some fashion or form.

grammaddy 4 years, 7 months ago

Heck yea there's a double standard. Obama couldn't just be the 1st Black President. He had to be SuperPresident. He's supposed to cure All the country's' ills in his first term. He has to balance the budget,end 2 wars, give us healthcare we can all agree on(like that will EVER happen),give us financial reform so Wall Street can't screw us again,cure the swine flu pandemic,fix the oil spill and still have enough energy left at the end of the day to go home and do the most important job in the world, be a great father and husband.Nobody has EVER asked that much from one man.But you know what. Those of us that voted for him knew that going in and our expectations weren't quite that high.He's not SuperPrez, just a good man trying to do his best for his famiy AND his country. I can live with that and will glady vote for him again.

grammaddy 4 years, 7 months ago

I am the mother of 5 bi-racial people.Why don't you ask them?Skin color doesn't matter to me. But it seems to be a factor in how most people judge this President. Blame Bush? Show me where. I guess the two wars and the collapse of our economy all started January 20th, 2008,huh.

jaywalker 4 years, 7 months ago

Gee whiz, rant much? First of all, there's no mention of the President on this string. Secondly, didn't matter who stepped into that seat (and no one put's a gun to anyone's head to get 'em to run for that job, btw), the expectations are always unrealistic and they would have faced the same scrutiny with the same issues. And if your premise is gonna be all of that is 'cuz he's a black man, I'm gonna go ahead and throw up.

jaywalker 4 years, 7 months ago

As solidly articulated, argued, and supported as I expected from ya. Well done.

grammaddy 4 years, 7 months ago

And that the majority of their constituency is black. Compton is in Waters' district and Brooklyn is in Rangels. Black folks would have kept voting for these two over and over. I would have too if I lived in their districts. Maxine was marvelous after the Rodney King verdict and I've always like Charlie Rangel.

Flap Doodle 4 years, 6 months ago

Were it not for gullible people voting based on race, both Maxine and Good Time Charlie would have rejoined the private sector long ago.

independant1 4 years, 6 months ago

Let look at it this way, members of congress net worth (2008) = $746K Congress members net worth increased 61% between 2004-2007 on average. only 10 senators reported net wealth of under $100K

They often vote on matters that affect their holdings.

'nuf said

independant1 4 years, 6 months ago

but then it's just numbers that have been massaged

independant1 4 years, 6 months ago

You know how Congress is. They’ll vote for anything if the thing they vote for will turn around and vote for them. (Will Rogers)

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