Charles Rangel now an issue in Florida elections

Famed Los Angeles social commentator Earl Ofari Hutchison wrote recently:

House Democrats are scared stiff that the GOP will erase their majority. What better way to prove that they can police their own and make good on Pelosi's oft-quoted vow to cleanse the swamp in Congress than to make sacrificial lambs out of a handful of wayward Democrats. And choose those who are the most identifiable, outspoken and vulnerable - and that's African-American Democrats.

If convicted, the Democrats will crow that they are staunch standard keepers of the ethical flame in the House. Waters is the perfect sacrificial lamb for them to make that case.

Meanwhile,  Florida U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Greene is making Rangel an issue.  In a conference call with reporters Sunday afternoon, Greene called on Rangel to quit Congress, and for Kendrick Meek to return the $5,500 in campaign contributions he's received from the New York Democrat.

"Charlie Rangel asked Speaker Pelosi and the House ethics committee to investigate his alleged wrongdoing. Now Kendrick Meek should also ask for his colleagues to get to the bottom of the allegations against him. Kendrick Meek should follow President Obama's lead and tell House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it's time for Rangel to go. He should also return the $5,500 he's received from Rangel's campaign committee and leadership PAC."

Last week, Meek responded on Rangel:

"I think that the whole ethics legislation that we passed in Congress is working. It’s working because there is a process in Congress to police members when there is a misstep,” Meek said Wednesday on his campaign bus. “And he’s going through that process just like anyone else would go through that process and that’s up to Mr. Rangel on what he does, and up to the people in his district.”

s reported Sunday that embattled Harlem Democrat Charles Rangel said that he signed a plea deal on ethics charges but that Republicans pushed for a trial.  The New York city Congressman faces 13 ethics violations, but said last week that he wouldn't settle to make others in Congress "comfortable."

The House Ethics Committee has also in the past week revealed that Los Angeles area Democrat Maxine Waters will soon be charged with a still unannounced set of ethics violations, , following a nine-month investigation into allegations that she had improper communications with executives from OneUnited Bank, a Massachusetts-based institution that her husband owned stock in and had once served on the board of directors, as the bank sought bailout funds.

Tampa's Kathy Castor is one of the five Democrats on the ten member House Ethics Committee.  Although she could not comment about anything to do with Rangel or Waters, she told CL yesterday after speaking at the Metropolitan Community Church in Seminole Heights that nobody should accuse the committee, or Democrats of not aiming for highest ethical standards, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi said would be the case when Democrats took over the House in 2006.

"When you look at the entire record, starting in 2007 when my class was sworn into the Congress, I was the first freshman to speak on the floor of the House and that was on the new ethics standards.  So there are no more high flying trips paid for by private lobbyists;  we have to report earmarks on our website and disclose them so you don't have the situation like the 'Bridge to Nowhere' that was just slipped into the bill.  There's all sorts of commitment to transparency and open government.  We also adopted the Office of Congressional Ethics, so anyone on the outside can make a complaint.  That had been closed off before."

Several liberal commentators have observed the fact that going into a tough election year, Democrats may be unfairly targeting two high profile black members of Congress to prove that they are being tough on their own.

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