Tag Archives: Eric Lipton

Jackson Pollack And Groucho Marx Comparisons Abound, Part II

Eric Lipton at NYT:

A House investigative panel has found “substantial reason to believe” that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated a range of ethics rules, dealing a serious blow to Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, in the twilight of his political career.

The finding means that the 80-year-old congressman must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member to be forced to do so since 2002, when former Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was expelled from Congress after taking bribes.

The investigative panel did not disclose any details about the nature of the violations.

But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor.

The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.

Jay Newton-Small at Swampland at Time:

The last time such an open process was used was for former Rep. James Traficant, an Ohio Democrat who was expelled from the House in 2002 for taking bribes, racketeering, filing false tax returns and forcing aides to perform household chores on his Ohio farm and DC houseboat (which was, coincidentally, parked not far from Duke Cunningham’s houseboat). Traficant served seven years in prison and is now a radio host in Ohio. He recently filed papers to make an independent run for his old seat.

Former Majority Leader Tom DeLay skipped such a step when his ethics investigation went right from the exploratory phase to admonishment — a first in ethics committee history.

Rangel first asked the committee two years ago to look into newspaper allegations that he’d failed to report income from a Caribbean rental, that he used Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a charity in his name and that he broke New York rent subsidy laws. The alleged tax lapses were particularly worrisome as the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is Congress’s top tax writer. Politico reported that Rangel was seen arguing with ethics committee chair Zoe Lofgren shortly before today’s announcement was made. Zofgren had, reportedly, been encouraging Rangel to follow a DeLay route and skip the adjudicatory process. As of August 2009, Rangel had spent more than $1 million in legal fees defending his actions to the committee. If he’s found in violation of House rules the committee’s evidence could be turned over to prosecutors to pursue a criminal case

James Richardson at Redstate:

In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel’s ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s pledge to run the “most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History.”

But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown — and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list–that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive–of the 80-year-old lawmaker’s ethics lapses:

  • Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
  • Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
  • The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
  • Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
  • In November 2008, the Post’s muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a “homestead” tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
  • Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
  • And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.

Mary Katherine Ham at The Weekly Standard:

Rangel’s lawyer tried to settle but was rebuffed. The man who writes the tax law you must follow

Gateway Pundit

Allah Pundit:

This is five months in the making, starting with his admonishment back in February over staff members having accepted free trips to the Caribbean and culminating a week later in his removal from Ways and Means — albeit supposedly only on a temporary basis. Anyone think he’ll be returning to the committee after this, even if he beats the rap?

The next step is a trial by subcommittee. Given that the most ethical Congress ever had a decidedly lackluster reputation on ethics until now, I wonder how much pressure for and against charging Rangel there is on the Democratic side. On the one hand, this is going to push ethics back on the campaign menu. On the other, if they beat up on Rangel, it makes them look forthright. Stand by for updates.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

While nothing short of a mobilized Allied army seems capable of forcing Rep. Charlie Rangel out of Congress, the House ethics committee will charge him with official ethics violations, essentially setting up a trial — the first in eight years.The violations have not been officially filed yet, so the specific violations they’re pursuing out of his career’s 10 billion worth aren’t fully clear. Probably related to this stuff, though, which people who’ve followed Rangel’s investigation are quite familiar with:

The committee had been investigating claims that Mr. Rangel improperly rented four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem at a price well below market value, despite rules forbidding House members from accepting gifts worth more than $50.

It also had been investigating allegations that he improperly used his office to provide legislative favors for an oil-drilling company that pledged a $1 million donation for an academic center named for Mr. Rangel and improperly failed to report taxable income received from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Maybe we’ll get something else, though? Something a little more blog-friendly? Sex, maybe?

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

Nicole Allan at The Atlantic

Jesse Zwick at The Washington Independent

UPDATE #3: Steve Krakauer at Mediaite

Ed Morrissey

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The Ensign Affair

Allah Pundit

Mitigating factors: He was separated from his wife at the time, or so he says, and was reportedly being blackmailed over this, which prompted the disclosure. Exacerbating factors: His mistress was married — her husband’s the accused blackmailer — and Ensign’s been known to tsk-tsk loudly and publicly about his colleagues’ indiscretions. Quoth Andy Levy, “Preaching about the sanctity of marriage while cheating on your wife is the same as a Treasury Secretary not paying his taxes.”

Alex Knapp, with links added by James Joyner

I am beginning to be of the opinion that if we truly wish to preserve the sanctity of marriage, we need to pass a law that mandates that all married politicians shall, upon taking office, be outfitted with a chastity belt to which only their spouse has the key.

Joyner’s links: Nate Carlile at Think Progress has Ensign’s quotes on marriage over the years.

Radley Balko, in full

Sadly, public acceptance of gay marriage has given yet another conservative politician no choice but to cheat on his wife.

Won’t someone please think of the hypocrites?

David Kurtz at TPM

Emily Miller in Politics Daily

Then I realized the worst part of the story is that sex scandals are so commonplace in politics that a sitting senator announcing he cheated on his wife with a co-worker is not very shocking or newsworthy. It seems a sex scandal has to find new, dirty angles (Mark Foley, Gary Condit) to keep our interest.

But the larger moral issue is that extramarital affairs have become more acceptable to Americans. I blame this on Bill Clinton because we had to hear every gross detail of his oral sex with an intern in the Oval Office. The Bill Clinton affair was so over-the-top (but under the desk) and so detailed (blue dress stains) that Americans became forever numb to the sex scandal shocks.

I really don’t know why it seems that most of the politicians caught in sex scandals tend to be Republicans. We think of ourselves the party of family values and our guys are screwing around; that’s embarrassing.

Harry Brighouse

David Weigel in the Washington Independent

Patrick Edaburn in Moderate Voice

To make it clear, I never approve of slimeballs who have affairs, but I think that we need to draw some lines when it comes to how we react. To begin with, I really think that unless you are a constituent that your ability to comment is somewhat limited. But I am a pseudo pundit so I might as well give a few thoughts, and I am pretty close to Nevada.

As I see it unless there is criminal conduct that any calls for resignation are dumb and out of bounds. I probably wouldn’t vote for Ensign for any office but I don’t think he should have to resign.When people called on Clinton to resign I thought they were wrong and I strongly opposed impeachment. His conduct was wrong but not criminal and thus not proper reasons to toss him out.

By contrast I did support calls for Craig and Spitzer to resign because they did engage in criminal activity and that was a reason for them to be forced from office.

And Wonkette:

Right now we’re seeing about… one? two? Two more days of caring about this John Ensign sex affair, tops. First of all, it was with a woman, presumably of age. Did this guy forget what party he’s in? Second, when he had the affair, he was separated from his wife. That’s just a sledgehammer to the comedic possibilities here. Does that even count as “cheating?” Maybe some of you married fools can explain. The only good part of this scandal is that this lady was married to another campaign staffer of his. But without PIX… well maybe we will never write about this scandal again. Back to IRANIAN TWITTER we go…

UPDATE: David Kurtz again

UPDATE #2: More from TPM on new information

Glenn Thrush in Politico:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) says he confronted Sen. John Ensign about his extramarital affair and urged him to end his relationship with Cynthia Hampton.

But Coburn, through his spokesman, did not address an allegation in the Las Vegas Sun that he encouraged Ensign (R-Nev.) to help the Hamptons pay off their million dollar mortgage.

UPDATE #3: More TPM on the latest developments:

It looks like John Ensign’s sexual dignity — which hasn’t been high lately — has plunged to new depths. His lawyer has just released a remarkable statement saying that Ensign’s parents paid the Hamptons $96,000 after the 51-year-old senator told his Mom and Dad about the affair.

Steve Benen

UPDATE #4: Michelle Malkin

Kevin Drum

Obviously Sarah Palin is now going to have to do something even more bizarre than last week’s lakeside press conference if she wants people to start paying attention to her again.  I wonder what she’ll dream up?

UPDATE #5: Eric Lichtblau and Eric Lipton at NYT on new revelations.

UPDATE #6: Michael Scherer at Swampland at Time

UPDATE #7: Jon Ralston at The Los Vegas Sun

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