From The BVX — With all of the problems facing America, congressional Democrats need a couple of high-profile ethics probes like Rihanna needs another misspelled — or not? — tattoo. But U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel are still sitting in ethical hot water and here’s why.
Washington’s latest political drama involves U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel Democrats representing Los Angeles and Harlem, respectively. To put their situation in cinematic terms (and give a shameless BVX link, sue us), like Ice Cube’s character Craig in the classic ‘Friday,’ longtime legislators must go up against a powerful thug (Debo = the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics) and risk losing their street cred (manhood x a shot at Nia Long = Democratic control of the House).
In July, a U.S. House investigative committee filed 13 charges of wrongdoing against Harlem’s Rangel. The most serious accusations were that Rangel, a 20-term congressman, failed to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republican, neglected to report hundreds of thousands of dollars of income, got several apartments in New York City for far less than market rate, and used official letterhead to solicit money for a school that bears his name.
The Office of Congressional Ethics also charged U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles in August with three counts of unfairly using her influence, including helping a bank where her husband held stock get a $12 million government bailout.
Both lawmakers have denied doing anything wrong — Rangel during an ill-advised 30-minute soliloquy on the House floor. They have both also asked that their hearings take place before the November election despite reports that high-ranking House Democrats are more than happy to put them off until later this year.
Their punishments could range from censure, which is essentially a very public slap on the wrist, which is all that happened to Bill Clinton for his ethical abuses of Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress, to removal from office, in which case each of their seats will wind up going to another African American.
From looking at the facts, it seems less a clear-cut case of shady politicians run amok than a pair of lawmakers — with 60 years of public service between them — who got careless and broke the rules at a time when the public’s sensitivity to anything with so much as a whiff of corruption is heightened.