Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a blockbuster. A memo was leaked detailing all the current House Ethics Committee investigations. And guess what, most of them are Democrats. In fact, the only Republican mentioned in it was Sam Graves, who has been cleared by the Committee.
So what did we learn? The Post says, regarding the inquiry of lawmakers tied to PMA, a now defunct lobbying shop, that “the inquiry was broader than initially believed”. And we learned that there is yet another investigation of Charlie Rangel:
Ethics committee staff members have interviewed House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) about one element of the complex investigation of his personal finances, as well as the lawmaker’s top aide and his son. Rangel said he spoke with ethics committee staff members regarding a conference that he and four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended last November in St. Martin. The trip initially was said to be sponsored by a nonprofit foundation run by a newspaper. But the three-day event, at a luxury resort, was underwritten by major corporations such as Citigroup, Pfizer and AT&T. Rules passed in 2007, shortly after Democrats reclaimed the majority following a wave of corruption cases against Republicans, bar private companies from paying for congressional travel.
This is in addition to all the other problems that Rangel has, including his not disclosing bank accounts, breaking New York City laws about rent control, and his holding hostage Puerto Rican grandmas for his rum buddies.
David Corn at Politics Daily has a smart take that Rangel will ultimately become a symbol of a corrupt Democratic Congress and Nancy Pelosi’s broken promise to drain the swamp.
Why might the Post article and this widening investigation of ties between lawmakers and lobbyists — neither of which relate to Rangel — matter for him? Though the probe has not yet found any of these House members guilty of wrongdoing, this episode will place pressure on Pelosi and her colleagues to show they’re not a party of sleaze. Consequently, Rangel is more vulnerable to the Republican’s campaign against him. If the PMA investigation heats up, he would make a great sacrificial lamb. And if the GOP continues to pursue Rangel, his party, burdened by this other ethics investigation, will have a tougher time protecting him.