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Following an admonishment by the House Ethics Committee, Charlie Rangel has taken a (supposedly) temporary leave of absence as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Rangel's successor, Pete Stark, has been investigated for an ethics violation as well and also has a history of bizarre, inflammatory outbursts. Politico reported earlier this week on an ethics investigation of Stark:
At issue was whether Stark had inappropriately applied for a homestead tax exemption in Maryland even though his official residence is in California, according to the report. Stark was later cleared by the ethics committee, but only after the bizarre encounter in his office last summer.
When the Office of Congressional Ethics staff came to Stark’s second-floor Cannon office in July 2009, investigators noticed a video camera recording — but Stark had not informed the interviewers that he had the camera running.
As the interview went on, Stark was contradictory in his answers to the investigators from the OCE, which is an outside congressional office and does not have the same power as the House ethics committee.
“Throughout the interview, Rep. Stark was extremely belligerent and frequently insulted the OCE staff members interviewing him,” Kedric Payne, the investigative counsel, wrote in a memorandum deep in the 122-page report. “Approximately 15 minutes into the interview, it also became apparent to the OCE interviewers that Rep. Stark was videotaping the exchange.” It is not standard for members to record interviews with the OCE, but members have the option of having a court reporter present for interviews.