Why Are the Rangel and Waters Hearings Happening Now?
The Ethics Committee has known about Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) violations since September 2008 and Rep. Maxine Waters’s (D-Calif.) misdeeds since June 2009, so why is it only making its findings available now? That’s the legitimate question that Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, wants to know.
Sloan doesn’t exactly give an answer in her op-ed, but she hints that politics might have something to do with it:
With control of the House likely up for grabs, some — including Rangel — have said that Republicans on the ethics committee have refused to reach a settlement with Rangel specifically because of a desire to focus national attention on Democrats’ ethics problems and to gain an edge in the election. [...]
Intentional or not, releasing charges against Rangel and Waters so close to the midterms lends credence to those who assert that the charges are political. The timing undermines the ethics committee’s already weak credibility and jeopardizes the legitimacy of the ethics process. As a result, we may see members reluctant to buy in to a process they view as a politically motivated. Already, we have heard members of both parties call for the OCE to be dismantled, or at least to have its (limited) power severely reduced.