Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., understands something that continues to escape House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is radioactive, owing to multiple investigations of his serial failures to disclose millions of dollars worth of income and investments.
Rangel had contributed more than $19,000 to Welch, but the Vermonter recently sent it back. That was a good decision because Welch is a member of the House Ethics Committee, which is conducting one of the investigations of Rangel. But it shouldn’t be necessary to be on the ethics panel in order to understand that Rangel’s actions disgrace Congress, make him unfit to chair the powerful tax-writing committee, and render campaign donations from him as dirty money. Over the years, Rangel has given more than $2.1 million to House colleagues. Each of the many recipients of Rangel’s tainted dough should give it back. This newspaper will track those who do and those who don’t.
Pelosi reportedly is sticking by Rangel despite mounting pressure to at least remove him from the Ways and Means chairmanship. But Pelosi is not unique among House Democrats standing by their man. In last week’s vote on the motion by Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, to remove Rangel from the chairmanship, only two Democrats voted with the Republicans.
Those two brave souls were Gene Taylor and Travis Childers, both from Mississippi. No wonder House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said after the vote that “instead of holding Chairman Rangel accountable for his actions, House Democrats are once again circling the wagons and demonstrating their loyalty to a leader who faces serious questions about his official conduct.”
Unfortunately, Rangel is not the only scandal on which House Democrats are compiling a record of evasion and tolerance of serious wrongdoing. On the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa of Southern California, the Ranking GOPer, announced his intention to offer a privileged motion to issue a subpoena for documents concerning sweetheart mortgage loans by Countywide CEO Angelo Mozzilo to members of Congress. Issa was unable to offer his motion, however, because none of the majority Democrats showed up for the scheduled committee meeting.
There is no reason to think Mozilo’s favors went only to Democrats, but to date only Democrats have been exposed as “Friends of Angelo” recipients, including Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota, plus two Democratic former CEOs of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson.
Pelosi and her colleagues are kidding themselves if they think voters will tolerate Democratic corruption in 2010 any more than they did the GOP’s in 2006.