Yesterday, the Washington Post broke a blockbuster. A memo was leaked detailing all the current House Ethics Committee investigations. And guess what, most of them are Democrats. In fact, the only Republican mentioned in it was Sam Graves, who has been cleared by the Committee.
So what did we learn? The Post says, regarding the inquiry of lawmakers tied to PMA, a now defunct lobbying shop, that “the inquiry was broader than initially believed”. And we learned that there is yet another investigation of Charlie Rangel:
Ethics committee staff members have interviewed House Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) about one element of the complex investigation of his personal finances, as well as the lawmaker’s top aide and his son. Rangel said he spoke with ethics committee staff members regarding a conference that he and four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus attended last November in St. Martin. The trip initially was said to be sponsored by a nonprofit foundation run by a newspaper. But the three-day event, at a luxury resort, was underwritten by major corporations such as Citigroup, Pfizer and AT&T. Rules passed in 2007, shortly after Democrats reclaimed the majority following a wave of corruption cases against Republicans, bar private companies from paying for congressional travel.
This is in addition to all the other problems that Rangel has, including his not disclosing bank accounts, breaking New York City laws about rent control, and his holding hostage Puerto Rican grandmas for his rum buddies.
David Corn at Politics Daily has a smart take that Rangel will ultimately become a symbol of a corrupt Democratic Congress and Nancy Pelosi’s broken promise to drain the swamp.
Why might the Post article and this widening investigation of ties between lawmakers and lobbyists — neither of which relate to Rangel — matter for him? Though the probe has not yet found any of these House members guilty of wrongdoing, this episode will place pressure on Pelosi and her colleagues to show they’re not a party of sleaze. Consequently, Rangel is more vulnerable to the Republican’s campaign against him. If the PMA investigation heats up, he would make a great sacrificial lamb. And if the GOP continues to pursue Rangel, his party, burdened by this other ethics investigation, will have a tougher time protecting him.
National Review’s Jim Geraghty has a tremendously important story. Jon Corzine is trying to build an absentee ballot slush fund to win a recount in the New Jersey Governor’s race. Basically, the Democratic Party has asked the Secretary of State to send provisional absentee ballots out to people whose signatures on their absentee ballot requests don’t match:
In a development that is depressingly predictable, the New Jersey Democratic party is asking the state to provide provisional ballots for all these voters. Those ballots could, presumably, be used to overcome any narrow lead by Republican Chris Christie over Democrat Jon Corzine on Election Day.
Now, let’s be clear how the absentee process works in New Jersey. Third parties can pick up and return absentee ballots. A couple of weeks ago, a Democratic operative in Atlantic City plead guilty to a lesser charge of tampering with ballots. One practice mentioned in the indictment was the person picking up ballots from people and throwing them out if they weren’t for his candidate. Another example was:
They allegedly solicited applications for messenger absentee ballots from individuals not qualified to receive them and had the voters not fill in the name of the messenger, so they could fraudulently designate themselves as the authorized messengers or bearers.
They allegedly obtained messenger ballots from the county clerk and submitted them to the board of elections as vote s on behalf of voters who, in fact, never received or voted the ballots or, in some cases, were given only the security envelope for the ballot and were told to sign it. Those voters were not given the opportunity to vote in most instances.
So when ballots are getting into the hands of people who didn’t even ask fro them, you have to wonder what is going on.
One of the central issues of the New Jersey Governor’s race is ethics. One question that arises from that is, “who is in charge, Jon Corzine or the Democratic Machine?” The case of Jamel Holley is a case in which the machine won.
Holley was ordered by a judge to pay a $125 fine and enter “pre-trial intervention”, at the end of which the case will be dismissed. (it is somewhat unlikely that, as the judge noted, Holley was “not familiar with the absentee voting system” or “not educated in this”. I mean, ED of the local party, representative to the convention, Council President, former Chief of Staff to the Deputy leader…) That sure sounds like an admission to the facts to me.
Corzine’s response? He backtracks on the initial demand to have Holley resign:
At a Willingboro rally on Saturday, Corzine told PolitickerNJ.com that he had not seen Lesniak’s letter, nor did he remember his request for Holley to step down from office while fighting his case against the Attorney General’s Office.
Corzine’s AG is under the bus. His principal of elected officials under scrutiny? Under the bus.
Sounds like Machine 1, Corzine 0.
Or, as one paper put it, “Christie has often accused Corzine of being more lenient with prominent Democrats while throwing lesser figures under the bus”. Perhaps Corzine just didn’t understand what category Holley was in.