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REMEMBERING THE OBAMA ERA: Victor Davis Hanson: The Silencing Of The Inspectors General.

McCabe and at least a half-dozen other FBI employees quit, retired, were fired or were reassigned as a result of fallout from the politicization of the FBI. Yet, as Barack Obama left office, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, strangely boasted that the Obama administration “has been historically free of scandal.” Obama himself recently concluded of his eight-year tenure, “I didn’t have scandals.”

Those were puzzling assertions, given nearly nonstop scandals during Obama’s eight years in office involving the IRS; General Services Administration; Peace Corps; Secret Service; Veterans Administration; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not to mention the Clinton email server scandal, the Benghazi scandal and the 2016 Democratic National Committee email scandal.

For nearly eight years, the Obama administration sought to cover up serial wrongdoing by waging a veritable war against the watchdog inspectors general of various federal agencies.

In 2014, 47 of the nation’s 73 inspectors general signed a letter alleging that Obama had stonewalled their “ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

The frustrated nonpartisan auditors cited systematic Obama administration refusals to turn over incriminating documents that were central to their investigations. . . .

In 2014, an internal audit revealed that CIA officials had hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers while compiling a report on enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA Director John Brennan had claimed that his agents were not improperly monitoring Senate staff computer files. He was forced to retract his denials and apologize for his prevarication.

In 2016, the State Department’s inspector general found that Hillary Clinton had never sought approval for her reckless and illegal use of an unsecured private email server. The IG also found that staffers who were worried about national security being compromised by the unsecured server were silenced by other Clinton aides.

Still, Obama was right in a way: A scandal does not become a scandal if no one acts on findings of improper behavior.

It was wall-to-wall corruption, but the press didn’t care because Obama was a sharp-creased Democrat.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON MUELLER: Investigating the Investigators. “Despite having both an expansive budget and a large legal team, Special Investigator Robert Mueller likely will not find President Trump culpable for any Russian collusion—or at least no court or congressional vote would, even if Mueller recommends an indictment. That likelihood becomes clearer as the Trump investigators—in Congress, in the Justice Department, and the legions in the media—begin to grow strangely silent about the entire collusion charge, as other scandals mount and crowd out the old empty story. This news boomerang poses the obvious question—was the zeal of the original accusers of felony behavior with the Russian collusion merely an attempt at deflection? Was it designed to protect themselves from being accused of serious crimes?”

ACCOUNTABILITY IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Censure briefly forgotten as House leaders honor Rep. Charles Rangel. “House leaders honored Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) with an official Capitol portrait Thursday, sweeping aside two years of scandal and a formal rebuke to recognize a man who rose from humble beginnings to become a congressional pioneer.”

CONGRESSMAN WU’S creepy enablers.

This is as much a scandal for Pelosi and her failed leadership as it is a scandal for Wu. We’re talking about the same proud feminist leadership and the same dysfunctional ethics panel that have dragged their feet on cleaning Capitol Hill’s mountain of other dirty laundry while providing cover to other predatory Dems:

They slapped New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel on the wrist for serial tax-cheating.

They have yet to bring California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters to trial after charging her last year with three violations related to her crony TARP bailout intervention on behalf of minority-owned OneUnited Bank in Los Angeles.

They are just now looking into former New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner’s possible abuse of government resources while sending lurid messages and photos to young women across the country.

And they have only recently reauthorized a probe into the aftermath of allegations that former New York Democratic Rep. Eric Massa sexually harassed several young male staffers.

In that case, you’ll recall that Pelosi’s office and Democratic Rep. Barney Frank’s office had both been told by Massa’s top aides of the out-of-control abuse of underlings — but said and did nothing for months.

Wu’s a creep. But the pattern of malign neglect on the part of his Washington enablers is even creepier.

They protect him while he’s an asset, then dump him when he becomes a liability. Not exactly a pattern of neglect.

STRANGELY, THEIR PARTY AFFILIATION IS OMITTED: “The mayor and seven other current and former officials of the small Los Angeles suburb of Bell were arrested on Tuesday on charges related to a pay scandal, the Los Angeles County District Attorney said.”

UPDATE: Reader David Marcus writes: “In California, non statewide offices are non partisan. The candidates may self identify with a party, or may be registered with a party, but its not going to show on the ballot. Because Bell is a heavily minority (Latino) city, it is most likely they are all Democrats, but they did not run for office as Democrats. That is not on their campaign literature and not designated on the ballot.”

HOLDING FIRE: “House Republican leaders intend to keep their powder dry as the public ethics trial of embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) unfolds. . . . Republicans are employing a don’t-get-in-the-way-of-your-enemies-when-they-are-destroying-themselves strategy, the same game plan Democrats employed as Republicans grappled with ethics scandals in 2006.”

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS WEEKEND: Roger Simon catches Charlie Rangel in Copenhagen.

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa Claus.

Our Angry President.

Obama and Climate Science plummet in polls. Plus, Joe Sixpack, climate skeptic?

Poll: Americans see Iraq war as success.

Bringing a gun to a snowball fight.

More on the Andrew Sullivan ghostblogger scandal. Best line: ““Andrew was the gold standard for solo bloggers. And now… Trig is not his baby!

And Jason Mattera presents a generational theft invoice to the AARP.

Plus, Alan Grayson proves a critic right.

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Remove Rangel From Tax Panel Chair.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., understands something that continues to escape House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.: 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 renders 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. . . . Unfortunately, Rangel is not the only scandal on which House Democrats are compiling a record of evasion and tolerance of serious wrongdoing.

Read the whole thing. So much for Pelosi’s promise to “drain the swamp.”

POLITICO: The GOP’s Rangel Dilemma. “Convinced that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is on the ropes because of a tangle of ethical issues, House GOP leaders are debating whether to aggressively press for his removal as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee or try to drag out the controversy as long as possible for maximum political advantage. . . . The reality for Republicans is that any way the Rangel scandal ends is good for both Boehner and the party.”

PAJAMA-BAITING IN THE WHITE HOUSE: Mickey Kaus thinks it’s Axelrod, and that it’s deliberate.

Meanwhile, Jake Tapper on Facebook: “Who cares what some anonymous coward at the WH thinks about bloggers?” Bloggers, of course!

UPDATE: Reader Paul Harper writes on Rangel and Pajama-baiting:

Interesting timing re: take off the pajamas. Kaus is often right on this stuff and Obama badly needs an excuse to stand still a while longer in Afghanistan. But the real function is to erect another kind of Dem to distract the media from the scandal that could really cost the WH and the Dems in 2010 and 2012: a close connection to Charles Rangel.

Unfortunately, the optics of race are part of this undercurrent; but the reality is that Rangel is simply practicing the kind of pocket-lining that Dems and Republicans of all political stripes have been practicing for ages. Rangel, however, is about (maybe) to be caught.

Obama looks good, saintly, when preaching for everyone to be just like him calm and composed as he stands transfixed in the headlights of history. Me? I’m all for jumping out of the way or for figuring out someway to knock out the driver quick.

Obama needs real opposition in Congress in 2010 and Axelrod understands how vulnerable Dems are on the Chicago politics of cash issue.

Are they that smart? Anyway, InstaPundit, at least, remains undistracted — see the next post.

NEW YORK POST: Fire Rangel.

Among other things, Rangel’s bill would even prohibit the IRS from forgiving taxpayers who erred in good faith — though that would be a very generous interpretation of his own tax troubles.

In just the last year, Rangel has been forced to file late-disclosure reports involving millions in income from land transfers and unreported business deals.

Such transgressions should preclude Rangel from even voting on tax legislation, let alone writing any.

Indeed. But taxes are for the little people. Though do Rangel’s problems really add up to millions? I didn’t realize that, but it’s hard to keep track of all the scandals that have been dribbling out . . . .

UPDATE: Reader David Kolbe writes:

Rangel’s most recent “million dollar problem” is not technically with taxes or reporting income to the IRS, but with his congressional financial disclosure. The Congressional disclosure problems add up, potentially, to over a million dollars. The tax issues we know about for him are the failure to report about $75,000 in income from his Caribbean retreat and his claim of property tax reductions on his DC house when he was also claiming one or more homes in NY as his principal residence. He hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, released his tax records, so we don’t really know how much he’s cheated on inadvertently underpaid his taxes, only that he cheated forgot to disclose at least some income. He’s screwing up so many different ways it’s hard to keep them all straight.

Did his failure to report assets and transactions on his Congressional disclosure carry over to his taxes? With the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct running interference for him the world may never know.

It is hard to keep it all straight, even if you’ve been paying attention. And I get the feeling that that’s the way he likes it . . .

“CULTURE OF CORRUPTION:” Meet the new political bosses, worse than the old political bosses.

Democrats took back Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008 in no small part because of their ability to bang their spoons on their high chairs about what they called the Republican “culture of corruption.” Their choreographed outrage was coordinated with the precision of a North Korean missile launch pageant. And, to be fair, they had a point. The GOP did have its legitimate embarrassments. California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham and lobbyist Jack Abramoff were fair game, and so was Rep. Mark Foley, the twisted Florida congressman who allegedly wanted male congressional pages cleaned and perfumed and brought to his tent, as it were.

Of course, it wasn’t as if Democrats were without sin. Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson was indicted on fraud, bribery and corruption charges in 2007, after an investigation unearthed, among other things, $90,000 in his freezer. Then-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer was busted in a prostitution scandal.

But that’s all yesterday’s news. Let’s look at the here and now. Barack Obama, who vowed he’d provide a transparent administration staffed with disinterested public servants with the self-restraint of Roman castrati, appointed an admitted tax cheat to run the Treasury Department — and he’s hardly the only one in the administration.

Following is discussion of Murtha, Rangel, Dodd, et al., plus this observation:

If a Republican administration, staffed with cronies from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, was cutting special deals for its political allies, I suspect we’d be hearing fewer FDR analogies and more nouns ending with the suffix “gate.”

Do you think?

CHRIS DODD UPDATE: “Already weakened politically by his quixotic presidential candidacy in 2008 and his ties to the failed mortgage giant Countrywide, Dodd found himself at the center of the storm caused by the massive bonuses given to AIG executives. His poll numbers in reliably Democratic Connecticut have tanked badly and he is certain to face serious Republican opposition — in the form of former Rep. Rob Simmons or former Ambassador Tom Foley — in 2010. The good news for Dodd? The bleeding has stopped (for now).” And don’t forget the Irish “cottage” scandal!

Meanwhile, I note that John Murtha, Pete Visclosky, Jim Moran, and Charlie Rangel seem to be keeping a low profile.

DODD, MURTHA, RANGEL, VISCLOSKY, AND MORE: A Scandal Scorecard.

SO WHO’S BEHIND THE DISTRACTIONS? Democrats Under Ethics Cloud Benefit From Distracted Public.

Feinstein defended herself Wednesday by pointing out that her legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that reportedly awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract never was enacted into law.

Another Democrat, Pennsylvania Rep. Jack Murtha, is facing a federal probe for purportedly steering defense appropriations to clients of KSA Consulting, which employed his brother Robert, and the PMA Group, founded by Paul Magliocchetti, a former senior staffer on the Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense.

New York Rep. Charlie Rangel is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee in at least four areas, including his reported failure to properly report income taxes on a Caribbean villa in the Dominican Republic; use of four, rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; questions about an offshore firm asking Rangel for special tax exemptions; and whether Rangel improperly used House stationery to solicit donations for a school of public affairs named after him at City College of New York.

Also, reportedly all the Republican scandals of previous years have left the press “desensitized” to all the Democratic scandals coming up now. How convenient.

RANGEL SCANDAL UPDATE: Rep. Rangel Pays $450,000 To Combat Ethics Allegations. “According to campaign records filed Wednesday with the Federal Elections Commission, Rangel (D-N.Y.) paid Zuckerman Spaeder nearly $350,000 and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe $100,000 in January. Rangel is under investigation by the House ethics committee for allegedly failing to pay taxes and misusing office letterhead for fund raising.”

SLOW PROGRESS ON ETHICS PANEL:

For the past eight months, the House ethics committee has been without its top staffer and chief counsel, a vacancy that comes as the panel struggles to forge ahead on investigations of high-profile Democrats.

William O’Reilly, the panel’s former staff director, left the committee last summer and has not been replaced. But the committee is trying to launch an inquiry into the finances of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and is under pressure from Republicans to launch a probe into lawmakers’ relationship with the PMA Group, the now-defunct lobbying firm.

All of this work is much more difficult without an expert staffer running things behind the scenes.

How convenient. More background here:

The PMA scandal is also unfolding as the ethics committee tries to work without its chief staffer. The FBI raided the firm’s offices in November, and it imploded afterward. Investigators are reportedly looking into alleged “straw man” donations to lawmakers from PMA lobbyists, including the former owner, Paul Magliocchetti, although no one has been charged in the case at this point.

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has offered six privileged resolutions calling on the ethics panel to investigate PMA and its ties to members, but so far Democrats have defeated Flake’s resolutions. Reps. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) have attracted most of the attention as the PMA scandal has unfolded, but dozens of other lawmakers had ties to the firm as well.

I don’t think Democrats feel any urgency about looking into these matters.

MORE ON THE STANFORD FINANCIAL SCANDAL, including an appearance by some familiar faces:

Like rats deserting a sinking ship, in the wake of the SEC’s fraud charges against Stanford on the 17th, Senator after Senator and Congressman after Congressman has come out saying they are returning the money Stanford gave them. Senators Chris Dodd (Chairman, Senate Banking Committee, $27,500), Bill Nelson ($45,900), John McCain ($28,150), and even President Barack Obama ($4,600, but $31,750 firmwide) have all announced that they will be donating the money that Stanford gave them to charity. On the House side, Representative Charles Rangel, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and who sponsored legislation that limited IRS audits in the Caribbean – where Stanford was having $100 million IRS back-taxes problems — said he would be donating the $10,800 he received to charity.

Even the family of Vice President Joe Biden has been forced to offer to return $2.7 million to the receiver that Stanford had invested in a co-branded investment fund owned by Biden’s son and brother. The fund has offered to turn over the $2.7 million investment it received from Mr. Stanford’s firm in 2007 to a court-appointed receiver in the SEC’s civil fraud case involving Mr. Stanford, according to Paradigm’s attorney, Marc X. LoPresti. The $50 million fund was jointly branded between the Bidens’ Paradigm Global Advisors LLC and a Stanford Financial Group entity and was known as the Paradigm Stanford Capital Management Core Alternative Fund.

For all the condemnation aimed at finance types, these guys don’t seem to mind being in bed with them. And as I’ve mentioned before, returning the money doesn’t mean you weren’t in bed with them, it’s just laundering the sheets, after.

Plus, I note that Stanford’s receiver wants the money back, not donated to charity. And I’d like to know more about the “charities” that this money is donated to.

THE STIMULUS PROTESTS AND FINDING COMMON GROUND: Michelle Malkin and I talk about how Obama is bringing conservatives and libertarians together again. Plus the Rangel, Dodd, Burris and Murtha scandals, Tim Geithner’s not-so-cunning plan, and the tragic giant-puppet gap.

CBS NEWS: Murtha May Be In Hot Water.

Plus, WSJ: Do Democrats Have A Corruption Problem? Note the long list of names and scandals. Including Chris Dodd and Charlie Rangel . . . ..

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Including an appearance by Chris Dodd:

Congress has turned an indulgent eye to these ethical lapses because there are many in Congress who are guilty of the same, or worse. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, remains chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee despite his failure to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income, and – according to a report issued Wednesday – repeatedly failing to comply with congressional financial disclosure rules. Sen. Chris Dodd (Democrat, Countrywide Mortgage) remains as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee despite having received a sweetheart loan from one of the worst of the subprime mortgage villains.

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel has apartment problems:

Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel earned headlines this week upon word that his “renting” of the basement in scarily-spectacled Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)’s Capitol Hill abode is illegal. Delauro tried to clear up the matter, telling the press that Emanuel’s been staying there for free. Scandal averted? Nope: “Free” is actually worse than “renting,” thanks to the Obama administration’s new and improved ethics rules regarding acceptance of private gifts from personal friends in high places. Delauro’s hub, a Democratic pollster, owns the house. Whoops!

Does a car come with it? Is it taxable?

GEE, DO YOU THINK? Big shots on Wall Street, in Congress still don’t get it.

New York’s Charles Rangel and five other Democratic members of the House enjoyed a trip to the Caribbean sponsored in part by Citigroup (see above) in November – after Congress had approved the $700 bailout for financial firms (including Citigroup).

The members no doubt will object to the terms “junket,” but that shoe fits. The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, has asked Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to investigate the Nov. 6-9 excursion to the island of St. Maarten.

It was called the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference, but “the primary purpose … for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation,” said the NLPC. And not only was the timing lousy, but “corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the (lobbyist Jack) Abramoff scandal,” the group pointed out.

Joining Rangel on that trip were Donald Payne of New Jersey, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Donna Christenson, delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

There are calls for them to reimburse the taxpayers — but of course, paying the money back once you’re caught isn’t the same as not having done something wrong, however much folks in Washington like to pretend that it is.

RICH PEOPLE VS. POLITICIANS:

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, with about $60 billion in assets each, are America’s richest men. With all that money, what can they force us to do? Can they take our house to make room so that another person can build an auto dealership or a casino parking lot? Can they force us to pay money into the government-run retirement Ponzi scheme called Social Security? Can Buffett and Gates force us to bus our children to schools out of our neighborhood in the name of diversity? Unless they are granted power by politicians, rich people have little power to force us to do anything.

A GS-9, or a lowly municipal clerk, has far more life-and-death power over us. It’s they to whom we must turn to for permission to build a house, ply a trade, open a restaurant and myriad other activities. It’s government people, not rich people, who have the power to coerce and make our lives miserable. Coercive power goes a long way toward explaining political corruption.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s hawking of Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat; Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel’s alleged tax-writing favors; former Rep. William Jefferson’s business bribes; and the Jack Abramoff scandal are mere pimples on the government corruption landscape. We can think of these and similar acts as jailable illegal corruption. They pale in comparison to what’s for all practical purposes the same thing, but simply legal corruption.

Read the whole thing.

SCANDALS SHOW NEED FOR LIMITED GOVERNMENT:

In 2006, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues regained congressional control after campaigning against what she famously called a Republican “culture of corruption.” Her description resonated with voters that year and again last fall, when frustration with Republicans helped then-Sen. Barack Obama win the presidency.

Obama won on the promise of cleaner, better government run by Democrats. But a funny thing happened when the 111th Congress opened this week: The Democratic clean-up crew arrived splattered in mud. . . . The taint of infighting and scandals extends well beyond the Chicago Democratic machine. Obama’s nominee for commerce secretary, Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, bowed out this week after leaks that a grand jury is investigating a possible pay-for-play scandal in Richardson’s administration.

Accusations of financial impropriety also continue to surface against Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., the House Ways and Means Committee chairman being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, continues to dodge questions about his sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide Financial, a company implicated in the nationwide mortgage collapse. And several other Democratic congressmen are facing media scrutiny for suspicious financial deals and earmarking practices. . . .

Given how poorly many of our national political leaders handle the perks and purse strings they already control, we should think twice before giving them free rein to exponentially expand government and manage even more of our money. At a time when a $1 trillion stimulus package barely raises eyebrows inside the Beltway, it’s worth remembering that no political party or leader is immune from the temptations that accompany absolute power. And no populace is as vulnerable to granting that absolute power as one racked by fear and seeking a savior.

Indeed.

INSTA-POLL: Rate the scandals!

Which scandal is worst for the Democrats?
Bill Richardson’s pay-to-play scandal.
Bill and Hillary’s questionable donations.
Chris Dodd’s iffy Countrywide mortgage.
Charles Rangel’s many scandals.
Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris, and the Chicago Way.
The shoe that hasn’t dropped yet.
  
pollcode.com free polls

MORE CHARLES RANGEL SCANDAL? New York Times: Rangel Pushed for a Donation; Insurer Pushed for a Tax Cut. Now it’s an A.I.G. connection:

On April 21, 2008, Representative Charles B. Rangel met with officials of the American International Group, the now-troubled insurance giant, to ask for a donation to a school of public service that City College of New York was building in his honor. . . . Mr. Rangel’s exchange with A.I.G. last spring appears to be at odds with the public statements he has made since his fund-raising for the school became an issue. When his approach to A.I.G. was first reported in The Washington Post in July, Mr. Rangel said that he could not recall any issues his committee might have considered in which A.I.G. had an interest.

(Via Lawhawk, who observes: “Rep. Charles Rangel keeps finding himself in this situation.”).

UPDATE: A reader complains that Rangel’s party affiliation is omitted, but in fact, down in paragraph 6, there’s a reference to Rangel’s “fellow Democrats.” Whether party affiliation would be featured more prominently if Rangel were a Republican is a question I’ll leave to readers.

Meanwhile, here’s a big Rangel roundup.

IN TIME MAGAZINE, the Top Ten Outrageous Earmarks of 2009. Number Two is the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, funded by, er, Charles B. Rangel, in a fashion that gave rise to scandal. Extreme Mortman says this is evidence of why the U.S. Government needs a Department of Irony. Don’t give ’em ideas; they’ll want to name it after themselves.

CHARLES RANGEL UPDATE: Newshounds should stay on Rangel’s scent.

With a new president coming to the White House and an expanded Democratic congressional majority whose leaders are eager to enact lengthy lists of proposals, it would be easy to forget the Rangel scandals. Despite calls from fellow lawmakers and news outlets, including this one, Rangel hasn’t resigned from his chairmanship, much less from Congress. So it is appropriate to review what has been reported thus far. Among the most serious revelations are these:

* Rangel used official House stationery to seek contributions to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. House rules forbid use of official stationery for such appeals.
* Rangel led a successful congressional effort to protect a tax break that benefited a oil company after the firm’s chief executive pledged a $1 million contribution to the Rangel Center at City College.
* Rangel failed to properly report income he received from a vacation property in the Dominican Republic.
* Rangel failed to comply with state law regarding his ownership of four rent-controlled apartments in New York City.
* Rangel improperly claimed a tax deduction for a primary residence in D.C., despite also claiming his primary residence back home in his New York congressional district.
* Rangel routed $80,000 from his campaign committee treasury to his son for virtually no work on a web site.

Rangel of course has denied all wrong-doing and claimed that many of the problems uncovered by the media were either a product of innocent confusion on his part or mistakes by others preparing his official documents. Until only a few years ago, a congressman enduring the kind of attention that has focused this year on Rangel might actually have reasonably hoped to survive, once the heat was off. But Allison points out another critically important factor in Rangel’s media coverage – much of it was made possible by online resources such as the congressional financial disclosure forms archive maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. Rangel would do well to ponder the prospect of further revelations, thanks to such online resources. The window of opportunity for a “clean” resignation is narrowing by the day.

Indeed.

Meanwhile, here’s a new headline: Rangel Pays Parking Tickets With Campaign Funds. “Regardless of any potential legal issues, the congressman is paying parking tickets with other people’s money.” Other people’s money — it’s pretty much a lifestyle!

CNN:

Congressman Charles Rangel’s fate hangs in the balance as a report concerning the Ways and Means Committee chairman is being prepared for release in early January.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she is waiting for the report from the House Ethics Committee before deciding what to do about several allegations against Rangel.

He’s under investigation for allegedly using formal letterhead to solicit donations to a school to be named in his honor; helping one donor’s company keep a tax loophole; having unreported income from a vacation villa; and having several rent-controlled apartments at below market rates, including one set up for his campaign operations in violation of state and local laws.

Democrats will have to decide what to do with Rangel. But it would be a mistake to only focus on punishing Rangel, if he is guilty, and not on the underlying issues that have been raised by this scandal.

We should remember that Rangel is not the first chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to find himself in political hot water. Rangel could join a cohort of powerful Ways and Means chairmen who have met notorious fates.

The chairmanship is a position that elevates legislators to the nexus of political and private interest group power. The temptation to abuse the position has been overwhelming to some.

Give the government less power, and it will be less of a magnet for corruption. I doubt, though, that Speaker Pelosi will favor that remedy.

NEWSDAY: With Rash of Scandals, Trust Is Gone. “In Congress, prominent members such as House Ways and Means chair Charles Rangel, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson are either accused of malfeasance, officially charged with corruption or already convicted. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been accused of multiple acts of corruption, including extorting cash or jobs for filling President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. All of this is creating a growing sense of mistrust. But then Americans have always been suspicious of big institutions that can exert a lot of power.”

So how about a little more suspicion of government expansion disguised as “stimulus?”

RANGEL UPDATE:

A series of scandals concerning Rep. Charles Rangel’s vacation retreat and fund-raising efforts have been all over the news lately. They haven’t mattered all that much to most Harlemites. What matters far more to them is the fact that Rangel and Gov. Paterson are neighbors, with spacious rent-stabilized apartments, in the same luxury complex.

“They enjoy what most in Harlem need,” 92-year-old Sophie Johnson told me, “someplace to live that’s affordable.”

How nice for them.

BLAGOJEVICH, RANGEL, ET AL., lead the London Times to observe: Seat for sale scandal causes wider worries over American corruption:

The scandal washing around Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois Governor, has sent ripples of unease through an American political establishment that has long traded favours or appointments for campaign donations.

Some suspect that the only difference between the traditional deal-making that lubricates Washington and the effort to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat was that the Governor got caught. Mr Blagojevich’s lawyer, Ed Genson, said yesterday that the case was “much ado about nothing” as he declared that his client would fight the charges and delay a decision on filling the seat. Others are asking if Congressman Charlie Rangel will be subjected to a FBI inquiry for allegedly backing a tax break to Nabors Industries in return for contributions from the company’s chief executive to an education programme bearing the Democrat’s name.

More on Rangel here. Also in The Hill. And don’t forget Chris Dodd and Countrywide!

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Democrats Are The New Ethics Story: “Democrats now have an image problem. The real issue isn’t so much Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s Senate-seat auction, as it is the focus that his scandal has directed toward a wider assortment of Democratic troubles. . . . The Chicago Tribune published a new story about Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who racked up $420,000 through a series of suspicious real-estate deals. Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, came under scrutiny this fall for questionable earmarking. West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan has been under investigation for a separate earmarking mess. And then there’s Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who has yet to answer questions about the sweetheart mortgage deal he received from Countrywide.” And Charles Rangel, who’s a one-man ethics problem!

INSTA-POLL:

Has the Blagojevich Scandal Peaked?
Yeah, the fun’s mostly over.
No, there’s an Imelda’s closet worth of other shoes to drop.
Sorry, I’m busy following Chris Dodd and Charles Rangel.
  
pollcode.com free polls

I DON’T SEE THE SCANDAL HERE: “Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel missed more votes than any other New York House member, according to a study released by Congressional Quarterly.” He’s old, and he was in the hospital for a while. Plenty of Rangel scandals already without making a big deal about this.

RANGEL HITS OBAMA CLOSER TO HOME:

It certainly didn’t take long for scandal to rear its ugly head in the new era of Democratic control. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich saw to that, and in spectacular fashion.

But while most attention is fixed on the Blagojevich scandal — coming as it does in President-elect Barack Obama’s home state and replete as it is with enough tape-recorded talk of peddling a Senate seat, shaking down contributors and blackmailing journalists to make even FBI agents blush — it may not be the most troublesome one for the new president.

His more vexing problem could turn out to be that other, quieter scandal dogging Democrats. That’s the one involving Rep. Charles Rangel, head of the House Ways and Means Committee.

There’s actually more than one scandal, but read the whole thing for the details.

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Analysis: GOP handed gift in Rangel ethics case.

NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Rangel’s Problems Roll On.

Plus, a multi-scandal roundup at the Washington Post. But it leaves out the Chris Dodd / Countrywide scandal.

L.A. TIMES: Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethics inquiry may put Pelosi in a bind. “Rangel could be assuming the limelight just as the ethics panel issues its report, risking political embarrassment for Pelosi, who had criticized the corruption scandals that plagued Republicans such as Reps. Bob Ney of Ohio and Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham of Rancho Santa Fe while the GOP controlled Congress.”

A RANGEL ROUNDUP: In case you were busy, you know, having a life over the weekend, don’t miss the editorials calling for Rangel to step down — here, here and here — and, by way of background, this scandal roundup. Plus, shades of pay-to-play.

RANGEL UPDATE: GOP Wants Ethics Investigation into Rangel’s Tax Loophole Help.

Plus, from U.S. News, The Right Way to Address Charles Rangel’s Scandals.

MORE RANGEL SCANDALS in The New York Times:

Congressional records and interviews show that Mr. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the project, the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.

The company, Nabors Industries, was one of four corporations based in the United States that were widely criticized in 2002 and 2003 for opening offices in the Caribbean to reduce their federal tax payments. Mr. Rangel was among dozens of representatives from both parties who bitterly opposed those offshore moves and, in 2004, pushed unsuccessfully for legislation to make the companies pay more tax.

But in 2007, when the United States Senate tried to crack down on the companies, Mr. Rangel, who had recently been sworn in as House Ways and Means chairman, fought to protect them.

Charlie Rangel — setting an example for us all!

MORE ON THE RANGEL TAX SCANDALS, at Gothamist.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER CHARLES RANGEL TAX SCANDAL: “You’ve managed to reelect a tax cheat who’s been shorting the government (take your pick of New York City, New York State, District of Columbia, and the federal government) for years on end, and yet doesn’t think that this diminishes his capacity to head the very committee charged with writing tax laws for the country.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin thinks it’s time to turn up the heat on Rangel: “The Chairman of Ways and Means is a tax scofflaw, and the Democrats don’t seem to be a bit concerned. If the not-so-new Republican Congressional leadership is intent on doing its job (curbing the worst excesses of the majority and gaining credibility), they should shine a bright spotlight on Rangel. And start asking why he remains in one of the most prominent Democratic leadership posts.”

Maybe a GOP Representative should introduce legislation to give all citizens the same pass that Rangel seems to be getting . . . the “I Forgot!” defense!

UPDATE: Reader John Griffin emails:

I read your posts regarding the scandals surrounding Rep. Charles Rangle and wonder why the media isn’t plastering stories about him and his scofflaw ways on every newspaper’s front page and leading every broadcast on TV day after day.

You might remember that the media outdid themselves recently in showing how excellent they can be in uncovering $1,000 odd tax lien/scofflaws such as Joe The Plumber.

Surely they know how to do it again.

Oh, they know how to do it.

STILL MORE CHARLES RANGEL TAX SCANDAL: Really, this is beyond a joke at this point. (Via LawHawk).

THE CHARLES RANGEL SCANDALS CONTINUE:

Rangel in September said he would hire a “forensic accountant” (think: “CSI: Charlie”) to untangle a 20-year morass of tax returns and to determine just how much money he’s made and how much in unpaid taxes he may still owe.

(Reminder: Rangel’s committee writes the nation’s tax laws.)

But as The Post’s Isabel Vincent reported, two months later Rangel’s lawyers claim they can’t locate a single qualified firm that hasn’t contributed to Rangel’s campaigns or has no pending business before Ways & Means.

The same lawyers, incidentally, have already been paid more than $121,000 from Rangel’s campaign committee.

The new politics of hope and change!

MORE ON the ongoing Rangel scandals.

THE CHARLIE RANGEL SCANDALS just keep going on. “‘I’ve never violated the public trust,’ he says. Which is utter nonsense.”

YET ANOTHER CHARLES RANGEL SCANDAL. They just keep coming . . . .

UPDATE: Meanwhile, does Dana Perino use the same accountant? Is there anyone in DC who can manage money?

NEW YORK POST: Step Down, Charlie:

Charlie Rangel must be a centipede – given how many shoes have been dropping regarding his personal finances.

Yet he’s pugnaciously defying demands that he step aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee – which writes the nation’s tax laws.

And, after two closed-door sitdowns with him in 12 hours, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has no intention of stripping him of his prestigious position – no matter how big an embarrassment he’s become.

“I see no reason why Mr. Rangel should step down,” she said yesterday.

She’s obviously not looking very hard.

Because, with each passing day, the Manhattan Democrat’s ethical shortcomings grow ever more obvious.

Which is why he’s hired a “forensic accountant” to autopsy 20 years worth of back tax returns. (Think “CSI: Charlie.”)

Ouch. Seems to me that the inability of somebody like Rangel to keep his taxes straight is, at the very least, an argument for radical tax simplification of some sort. Not that that gets Rangel off the hook, any more than it would for you or me.

Some more thoughts on Nancy Pelosi’s limp response to the Rangel scandals: “Normal people would be facing jail time for such shenanigans. And we’re not even going to mention his four rent-controlled apartments in the same Harlem building.”

TAXPROF: Rangel refuses to step down as Ways & Means Committee chair. This could hurt — if I were the GOP I’d put together an ad featuring Biden’s credit-card connections, Dodd’s sweetheart mortgage scandal, and Rangel’s ongoing problems and run it all over. I can’t believe they won’t do something like that, since it’s a gimme, and I’m surprised that the Dems couldn’t get him out of the picture. Then again, I said the same thing about the Republicans and Ted Stevens . . . .

UPDATE: Reader Mark Cates writes:

I would put together a commercial that said…

James A. Johnson – former Fannie Mae CEO and Obama Advisor

Just cost you billions in taxes

Franklin Raines – former Fannie Mae CEO and Obama Advisor

Just cost you billions in taxes

Barack Obama – If we can’t afford his advisors, how can we afford him?

Yeah, I’m actually kinda surprised we haven’t seen something like that already. Maybe the McCain rapid-response team is off its game . . . .

MORE: Reader Krys Corbett emails:

Oddly enough, there is a similar story on huffingtonpost — but the other direction.

——–

It seems to me that neither candidate wants to open this particular campaign financing can-of-worms.

Could be. The money tends to get spread around.

STILL MORE on Charles Rangel’s scandals. “While republicans are demanding Pelosi remove Rangel, the Democrats are caught between getting rid of a problem that could come up in debates versus not wanting to alienate black voters who may think removing Rangel would be overkill.” With polls tightening in New York, that’s a real problem, I guess.

THE NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIALIZES ON THE CHARLIE RANGEL SCANDALS: “Mounting embarrassment for taxpayers and Congress makes it imperative that Representative Charles Rangel step aside as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee while his ethical problems are investigated.”

MORE CHARLES RANGEL SCANDAL. At least now we know how he can afford those really nice suits. I’ve always admired his suits.

DAMON ROOT looks at Charles Rangel’s various scandals.

INCONSISTENT STANDARDS? Reader James Lennon sends this:

I read your comments about the Gannon story, and I couldn’t agree more- bringing up personal issues is sooo sleazy… the link below, though, is really interesting because it details on myriad occassions when you, Glenn Reynolds, did exactly that. Which I thought you should review before you poo poo the liberal bloggers WHO ARE BRINGING DOWN A MAN WHO COMMITTED TREASON BY OUTING PLAME (And you think anti-war liberals hate America… This gy outed an undercover CIA agent for political retirbution. If Wolf Blitzer did that you’d call it treason, you hack- so let’s call a spade a spade).

Here’s a quick fact check regarding your history. SINCE THE CONSERVATIVE BLOGOSPHERE IS SO AMAZING AT SELF-CORRECTING, I BREATHLESSLY AWAIT YOUR RETRACTIONS…

My, how swift these lefty guys are to level charges of treason. However, the claim that Gannon “outed” Plame — which I think is what he’s referring to — seems rather weak, as Tom Maguire has noted in this post.

Lennon also sends a link to this blog post, which collects some InstaPundit references to the Kerry intern scandal by way of attempting to demonstrate my hypocrisy. Of course, for these to be comparable, several things would have to be true. First, you’d have to believe that anyone who asks a question in a White House press conference is opening himself up to the kind of scrutiny that Presidential candidates face. I doubt that the press corps believes that, nor do I. (Ironically, some of my links are to Democratic speculation that other Democrats were behind the intern scandal story,and to expressions of glee at it on the Dean and Edwards campaign blogs — but follow them all, as there’s nothing there I’m ashamed of, and I think my tone, and substance, is light-years from the lefty Gannon stuff I’ve seen).

Second, you’d have to believe that my references are the equivalent of digging up unpublished dirt and publishing pictures of a man in his underwear while engaging in tacky homophobic remarks, all in the process of writing about an unrelated topic.

Strangely, however, this post of mine is omitted from the list: “MY SO-FAR RATHER UNDERWHELMED TAKE on the Kerry scandal is now up over at GlennReynolds.com. Excerpt: ‘I have to say that, to me, how Kerry would do on the war is a lot more important than what (er, or who) he’s doing in the sack.'” I haven’t noticed a similar take on the Jeff Gannon story from the lefties. Maybe there’s something bigger there — though as I noted the other day, people like David Gergen and Howard Kurtz don’t seem to think so — but so far I haven’t seen it, and stuff like this isn’t doing anything to impress me with the seriousness of the people pushing it.

Neither is the excess capitalization. For a more serious take on these issues, you might want to read this post. Bottom line: “If Jeff Gannon is a hack who shouldn’t have been given press credentials, that can be proven by quoting his questions and questioning his qualifications. What the hell does his personal life have to do with the issue?”

Yeah. Why, that’s kind of like what I said about Kerry . . . .

UPDATE: Actually, it’s worse than that, as the lefty attacks seem to be conflicting with each other. As Mickey Kaus notes: “I’m trying to get up to speed on Gannongate, but I keep getting confused. If ‘Gannon’ did get a leak of classified documents, would that make him more of a fake reporter or more of a real reporter?” Kaus also accuses me of being too “decorous” about Eason Jordan’s personal life. But that’s not the story, so I don’t care.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

And Ed Morrissey has some worthwhile thoughts.

MORE: Reader Joseph Fulvio emails:

Reading your lefty critic’s faux-outrage over Gannon’s ‘treason’ (in all caps, no less) was a lot like watching hipsters trying to be traditional during the holidays. They can’t quite stifle enough of their post-modern ironic tics to make it real. So, too, with concerns about treason and ‘support-the-troops’ head fakes coming from the Left; too calculated, contrived and, ultimately, phony.

Yeah. It’s not quite like watching Jerry Falwell fulminate about women losing access to abortion, but still . . . .

WILL JOHN KERRY DEMAND KOFI’S RESIGNATION?

The human rights organization slammed the United Nations and NATO for not doing more to punish its people for contributing to what has become a flourishing sex industry in the Balkan country.

Since 1999, when international peacekeepers entered the country after negotiating an end to the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia, the number of institutions where women and girls are being exploited has mushroomed from 18 to 200 in 2003, according to the report. Girls as young as 11 have been lured under false pretenses from places like Moldova, the Ukraine and Bulgaria to work in the sex trade.

Then there’s this:

Eritrea broadcast a statement on Thursday alleging a string of offences committed by Unmee, including housing criminals, paedophilia, making pornography and even using the national currency as toilet paper.

An Unmee report last June quoted Eritrean women as saying Irish peacekeepers on the mission had used prostitutes as young as 15.

The Eritrean government said: “The fact that Unmee has to date not taken any concrete actions and shown no co-operation to correct its modus operandi and clean up its activities, exposes to grave danger the peace and stability of the people and government of Eritrea, as well as the security and stability of our region.”

(And don’t forget this report and this one.) No doubt Charles Rangel will be outraged.

UPDATE: James Somers has good advice for Kerry:

It would, I think, be a very clever political move for Kerry to deliver an address skewering Kofi and the U.N. on the Oil for Food scandal. In fact, Karl Rove would probably wet his pants if Kerry did so. People talk about Kerry needing a “Sister Souljah” moment. This would do it. It would give him credibility with the broad swath of Americans who feel that the Bush Administration has been incompetent in handling Iraq, but find Kerry’s platitudes about “rejoining the international community” and “bringing the U.N. into Iraq” to be so naive and Euro-centric as to suggest that he will not put America’s interests above those of other nations. Put another way, it would play well in Peoria. And the best part, from the Kerry campaign’s view, is that the Administration can’t respond in kind, because it needs to suck up to the U.N. so as to get whatever help it can in stabilizing Iraq sufficiently to take it off the table as a political liability.

Interesting.

PEOPLE SEEM TO BE NOTICING Sen. Chris Dodd’s racially insensitive comments, as the story is breaking into traditional media:

WASHINGTON, April 7 (UPI) — A mini-scandal has erupted in Congress as some Senate Republicans question whether comments made by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., were racist.

In a speech on the Senate floor last Thursday marking Sen. Robert Byrd’s 17,000th vote in the body, Dodd said the West Virginia Democrat, member of the Ku Klux Klan before taking office and opponent of the 1964 Civil Right Act, “would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation.”

Dodd’s comments struck some as similar to remarks made by former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., that led to his losing the position.

Read the whole thing. Strangely, though bloggers on the right were swift to condemn Trent Lott’s comments, bloggers on the left don’t seem to be condemning Dodd’s with anything like the same degree of energy. As Jeff Goldstein notes, some are even trying to defend Dodd’s comments. And Joe Gandelman has a roundup.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Chris Dodd, here. Has Dodd said anything about this that I’ve missed?

Like Lott, he could have shut this down early with a simple statement that he didn’t mean that the U.S. would have been better off with a Grand Kleagle in charge during the Civil War. How hard is that?