Saturday, July 24, 2010

Plea bargaining political corruption

Now that the word is that the House Ethics Committee after a couple years of investigation has determined that Charlie Rangel is indeed corrupt, the question arises of what they are going to do about it. And apparently, they're trying to plea bargain the problem away by having Rangel admit wrongdoing so that they can avoid public proceedings against him. All he'd get is some sort of reprimand.
Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Rangel’s legal team continued working to pre-empt the hearing and the release of the report from the investigative subcommittee of the ethics committee. That report, part of which is expected to be released next Thursday, found evidence that Mr. Rangel had violated House ethics rules in a number of areas.

The two sides must grapple with what kind of punishment Mr. Rangel would agree to in a settlement, like a reprimand or a letter of censure. Some Republicans have pressed for him to give up his seat, but it does not appear that the negotiations included any requirement that he agree to resign or end his re-election bid.
Isn't that precious? The guy was the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, for gosh sake! You know - the committee that helps write the tax laws. And he was guilty of tax evasion on his villa in the Dominican Republic. Add in his four rent-stabilized apartments and preserving a tax loophole for an oil company that then gave $1 million to his self-named policy center. And all he'd get is a slap on the wrist reprimand? That's the way the politicians do these things.

And Rangel is still running for office and using the Democrats' reluctance to have a big public hearing highlighting what a corrupt guy one of their party leaders is right before election.
Although Mr. Rangel would appear on the surface to have little leverage in the situation, the calendar, in some ways, favors him.

As an incumbent in a heavily Democratic district, he needs only survive his Sept. 14 primary against four underfinanced challengers. Under House rules, the trial cannot start for at least 25 days, in part so that Mr. Rangel can review any evidence to be presented; with the August recess, that would all but certainly push a trial into September.

But for Democratic leaders, whose control of the House is uncertain, the prospect of a public ethics trial involving one its most senior members in the heart of the general election season is extremely worrisome. “To have a trial in the fall — clearly that is not something that anybody wants,” one senior House Democratic aide said.
If Nancy Pelosi truly was interested in sweeping out all corruption in the House as she swore she was when she became Speaker after the 2006 election, this would be an easy call. They would have rushed to finish this investigation - it surely didn't need two years to find out that all the accusations against the guy were indeed true. And she'd be pushing him out of there as fast as can be no matter how hard Rangel wanted to fight to protect his reputation. Instead, the politicians are acting as they like to do - giving one of their own the easy way out as they plea bargain away the stench that emanates from Rangel.

Once again, just imagine reversing the political parties and imagine the stink that would be made if the Republicans were doing the same for one of their guys.