We took Congress in large part because Republicans ignored corruption inside their ranks.
The House ethics committee voted unanimously Thursday to expand the investigation into Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) alleged financial irregularities.
The panel broadened the jurisdiction of its probe to include amendments to his financial disclosure records showing at least $600,000 in previously unreported assets, according to an ethics committee release [...]
The ethics committee has been investigating multiple allegations against Rangel for more than a year and has been criticized for dragging its feet. The panel, however, has been understaffed and just hired five attorneys and one senior investigator in late July.
In its release about the expansion of the probe the ethics committee highlighted all the work it has done in the Rangel matter thus far, including issuing close to 150 subpoenas, interviewing approximately 34 witnesses resulting in more than 2,100 pages of transcripts. It also reviewed and analyzed more than 12,000 pages of documents and held more than 30 investigative subcommittee meetings.
As chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, Rangle is one of the most powerful people in government. Yet despite serious allegations of corruption, he continues to chair his committee. As Gail Collins writes:
Republicans are, however, completely right about Rangel. Whenever a powerful committee chairman has so many problems that you need a timeline to keep all the allegations straight, he is a liability. When those problems revolve around things like failure to pay taxes, it is not a good plan to have him be in charge of tax policy.
Memo to House Democrats -- the "culture of corruption" crosses partisan lines. Last time the Democrats looked the other way -- with William Jefferson -- Republicans picked up a seat in one of the most Democratic districts in the nation. Next time, they may pick up the entire U.S. House of Representatives.
Rangel should step down from his chairmanship until the ethics committee completes its work and issues a final report.