January 6, 2009

THE ALBANY TIMES-UNION ON MONEY IN POLITICS:

There’s Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who, despite heading the Ways and Means Committee that writes tax law, can’t seem to pay his own taxes. Nor does he see an ethical problem with using his congressional stationery to solicit contributions for a school that City College of New York was building in his honor, a matter that last year became grist for the House ethics committee.

Among those Mr. Rangel hit up for money were officials of insurance giant American International Group. Shortly after their April 2008 meeting, a senior AIG executive who had attended it asked Mr. Rangel to support legislation that would save the company millions. That doesn’t square with Mr. Rangel’s public assertion last summer that he couldn’t recall any issues concerning AIG that came before his committee, or that AIG raised any legislation with him.

Then there’s the matter of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, President-elect Barack Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary. Mr. Richardson withdrew his name from consideration amid a grand jury investigation into $100,000 in donations to his political action companies from a company, CDR Financial Products. In 2004, around the time of the donations, the company won a state contract worth almost $1.5 million.

And finally there’s Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s choice for secretary of state. As part of his wife’s vetting process, former President Bill Clinton agreed to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the donors to his foundation. Among them was Syracuse (and Crossgates)mall developer Robert Congel, who gave $100,000 in 2004, around the same time that Mrs. Clinton was helping to secure millions of dollars in federal support for Mr. Congel’s Destiny USA project. The help for the project, supported by many New York politicians, included tax-exempt bonds for the complex, and $5 million in a highway bill for road construction.

Yeah, it could almost make you kind of cynical. And they don’t even mention Chris Dodd!

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