Ethics Panel Prejudges Rangel Case?
1:16 PM, Jan 29, 2009 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently chose to reconstitute the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (the Ethics Committe) with new members. That means that the panel investigating Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel has to start from scratch. While one of the new members -- Vermont's Peter Welch -- recognizes that having accepted donations from Rangel creates the appearance of a conflict of interest (or an actual conflict of interest), one of his colleagues sees no problem:
The common practice of eliminating possible conflicts of interest is only partly about ensuring a fair investigation. It's also about doing everything possible to demonstrate to the public that the investigation was fair. Further, it's hard to take Butterfield's nonchalance as anything other than a sign that he doesn't think Rangel has done anything seriously wrong. After all, if he thought there was any chance the committee might recommend a stiff sanction, he would want to put some distance between himself and the ethically-compromised chairman.