Rangel Allegations Disturbing, Ethics Committee Actions Encouraging: Statement of Policy Director Meredith McGehee
The Statement of Alleged Violations issued by the subcommittee of the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee presents a disturbing pattern of behavior. Rep. Rangel deserves the opportunity to present his case in these proceedings, but he has already acknowledged conduct that supports many of the violations outlined today.
It is a relief to see the Ethics Committee taking these matters seriously and not simply sweeping this matter under the rug as it has with other seemingly clear cut violations of House ethics rules. After an “ethics truce” lasting more than a decade, the Committee has a long way to go to rebuild its own public credibility.
It is important to note that this action by the ethics committee does not by any means eliminate the need for the Office of Congressional Ethics which is under siege from inside Congress. The OCE has played an important role in ensuring a more transparent and accountable process. It was not involved in the Rangel investigation as it did not have jurisdiction over issues which occurred prior to its formation and operation.
Rep. Rangel has a long and distinguished career as a public servant but the activities described in the subcommittee’s statement of violations, if proven, are exactly the kind of behaviors that create the shamefully low public esteem for Congress and foster cynicism about our elected leaders and politicians in general. We hope the proceedings going forward will begin to help to restore the public trust in the legislative branch by showing that no official is above the law.