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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

independant1 3 years, 8 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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independant1 3 years, 8 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

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Pollocaca 3 years, 8 months ago

Why didn't Rangle have a villa in Haiti? Same Island. Haiti has beautiful weather. Lovely beaches. Beautiful locals. He could have avoided paying taxes there as he has in the Dominican Republic.

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RATM 3 years, 8 months ago

“Black folks would have kept voting for these two over and over.”

Racism does make peopel stupid or are stupid poeple racist. Just like those who supported OJ.

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tsunami9320 3 years, 8 months ago

It's not just the fact that Rangel and Waters are black. It's that they're black and they openly supported Hillary for president. This is payback time, Chicago style.

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Agnostick 3 years, 8 months ago

Ruth Marcus was on "Morning Joe" discussing her editorial. Money quote:

"The longer they stay -- nearly 40 years in Rangel's case, going on 20 in Waters's -- and the safer their seats, the sloppier they tend to get, and the more there tends to be a unseemly merger of the personal and the official."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/03/AR2010080303884.html

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Tom Shewmon 3 years, 8 months ago

If African-Americans want their minority status to be set to the default, "the boy who cried wolf", go for it. I really don't care.

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RATM 3 years, 8 months ago

I just wondering why are all the African Americans in high level government crooks, remember the guy who had 20k in his freezer and got off with some loop hole.

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grammaddy 3 years, 8 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.

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AppleJack 3 years, 8 months ago

I will be very surprised if Rangel and Waters do not play the race card before this is all over. That is what Dems do when everything else has failed.

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Roland Gunslinger 3 years, 8 months ago

Bah hogwash... if it was because of race then nothing would be coming out about Sen John Ensign.

He's a Republican Senator. He's white. He's not facing ethics charges... he's facing criminal charges and is being investigated by the FBI.

You've heard about this right? No? Hmm... wonder why Fox hasn't carried this story ad naseum like they have with Rangel and Waters.

http://www.lvrj.com/news/ensign-aides-cleared-to-testify-to-grand-jury-on-senator-s-affair-99611329.html

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jmadison 3 years, 8 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.

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