The eight members of the House ethics committee - one of them being Tampa area Democrat Kathy Castor- are suddenly in the spotlight, with the possibility that two major Democrats - and members of the Congressional Black Caucus - New York's Charlie Rangel and Los Angeles's Maxine Waters - say they now want a full on trial on the ethics charges that the committee has found against both of them.
Last week the House ethics committee outlined 13 charges against Representative Rangel, the Harlem powerhouse who has been accused of failing to disclose assets and income, delayed payment of federal taxes and improper use of a subsidized New York apartment for his campaign office.
And today they announce charges against Waters, on whether she broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband was a board member and owned stock. She immediately denied the charge.
According to Alex Leary with the St. Pete Times, Castor's office is forwarding all media inquires to go to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Mike Prendegast, one of four Republicans running in the August 24 GOP Congressional Primary for District 11, has sent a letter to the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, in which he criticizes the Tampa Democrat, saying that she made a choice in role on the committee that "reflected her political ineptitude." He writes:
...Castor wielded an immense amount of power going into last Thursdays judicial hearings for Rep. Charles Rangel. However, she sprinted to the political center where she then tip-toed the tightrope of hypocrisy.
Castor approved sanctions against the 20-term congressional veteran. This vote, she would hope, appeased the Black Caucus while also quieting outspoken Republicans enough to avoid an ugly trial set to begin just weeks before what will be a contested race for the first time since she won office in 2006.
However, a simple citation is not enough to excuse 13 ethical violations. As a member of an ethics committee, Castor knows this despite voting otherwise. Congressmen and women must be taught that their actions, much like the bills they pass, have consequences and therefore they must be held accountable for their mistakes.
Castors mistake was trying to play both sides which resulted in an ineffective compromise for both. Her consequence will be a controversial trial in the dead heat of an election period a month and a half from now. Had she stood on principle, be it for the people she represents or for the justice of ethics, her role in this would not have been questioned but by playing politics she has once again proved why we need a change come November.