GOP likely to level corruption charges vs. Democrats

Embattled Democratic candidates will likely be fending off charges of corruption from Republicans this fall even as they defend policies polls show to be unpopular in the face of a sour economy.

Several key ethics cases involving Democrats are poised to get a very public airing in the coming weeks, and new charges have surfaced over the summer recess.

When Congress adjourned in August, it left behind unresolved ethics charges against Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.

The action on those two cases — and all the accompanying attention — is set to resume when Congress returns this week, starting as early as this month with a public trial on ethics charges against Rangel that will be televised and plastered across newspapers and blogs.

“I do think they have a problem here,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Having ethics hearings involving senior Democrats right before a close election is going to again put ethics in the spotlight. I think that can have an impact.”

Democrats and Republicans know ethics troubles can be particularly damaging if they surface close to Election Day. In October 2006, a scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., entangled the entire GOP leadership and by most accounts contributed to the Republican Party losing the majority in the House.

At the time House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised to “drain the swamp,” in Congress, a phrase Republicans are now using against her as Democratic charges pile up.

“Pelosi's swamp just got dirtier,” the House Republican campaign arm declared last month after Waters was charged in August with violating the House code of conduct for helping secure a loan for her husband's bank.

In addition to the ethics troubles surrounding Rangel and Waters, Congress is awaiting a report from the ethics panel, made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, on how the Democratic leadership responded to charges that ex-Rep. Eric Massa sexually harassed some of his House office employees. The panel has interviewed the top Democratic leadership and staff, who could be in hot water for not acting faster when complaints surfaced about Massa.

And in recent days news reports have revealed two members of the Congressional Black Caucus, both House Democrats, awarded thousands of dollars in CBC Foundation scholarships to family members.

Rangel, meanwhile, is demanding a public hearing to defend himself against 13 charges by the bipartisan committee, including failure to pay back taxes and using his powers as Ways and Means Committee chairman to help companies that donated to a school named after him. Before leaving town in August, Rangel signaled he had no intention of accepting the charges and averting trial, as many of his Democratic colleagues hoped he would do. He delivered a lengthy speech on the floor of the House in August, defending himself and lashing out at the Democrats who want him to go away quietly for the sake of the party.

Waters took a similar stance, holding a press conference lasting an hour and a half in which she proclaimed, “I won't cut a deal.”

An ethics committee official told The Washington Examiner that no date has been set for either hearing.

Peter Fenn, a top Democratic strategist, said Democrats had bigger things to worry about than ethics in the upcoming election.

“Voters are really focused on the economy,” Fenn said.

sferrechio@dcexaminer.com

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsPoliticsSusan FerrechioWashington

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Crab fisherman Skip Ward of Marysville casts his crab net out off a pier near Fort Point. (Craig Lee/Special to The	Examiner)
San Francisco came back to life, and we captured it all

Last spring, in the early days of the pandemic, the bestselling authors… Continue reading

Revelers at Madrone Art Bar in the early hours of June 15, 2021 (Courtesy Power Quevedo).
No social distancing at Motown-themed dance party

‘I don’t care how anyone feels, I just want to dance!’

<em>The San Francisco Peace Pagoda stands tall in between Japan Center East and West malls.</em>
 (Ida Mojadad/The Examiner)
Patrons return to the Japantown mall

‘We’re so happy—it’s really hard to make a profit’

Scenes from an SFO-bound BART train on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, the day California fully reopened for business after the COVID pandemic. (Al Saracevic/SF Examiner)
SF reopens: BART riders dreading the end of the pandemic

‘I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be packed like sardines’

Micael Butial stands as he holds an umbrella that he painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate” at a rally held to show support for Asian and Pacific Islanders communities, Sunday, March 21, 2021 in San Francisco. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Inside the California organization tracking anti-Asian hate incidents

By Mallika Seshadri CalMatters Richard Lim was walking along a quiet sidewalk… Continue reading

Most Read