WASHINGTON - June 28 - Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released an ethics complaint against Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.). CREW also sent copies of the complaint to the Department of Justice, Public Integrity Section and to the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Last fall, CREW named Rep. Taylor one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress.
CREW is asking that a member of the House forward the complaint against Rep. Taylor to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the House Ethics Committee. CREW is not submitting the complaint to the Ethics Committee directly because outside groups are barred from filing complaints. The rules allow a member of the House to certify that CREW's complaint has a good faith basis and forward the complaint to the Ethics Committee, stating that the complaint merits the Committee's consideration.
Among other things, the complaint alleges that Rep. Taylor may have engaged in the crimes of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bribery and honest services fraud. It also alleges that he violated numerous House ethics rules including: the prohibition on members from receiving anything of value from anyone seeking official action from the House, the prohibition on conduct not reflecting creditably on the House, and the prohibition on banned fiduciary relationships.
The conspiracy allegations stem from Rep. Taylor's long-time friend and political supporter, Charles Cagle's 2001 guilty plea to bank fraud for borrowing $1.3 million from Rep. Taylor's bank, Blue Ridge Savings and Loan. Hayes C. Martin, the former president of Blue Ridge and former treasurer for Rep. Taylor's campaign committee, pleaded guilty to bank fraud for making the loans to Cagle. Both Cagle and Martin stated that Rep. Taylor was involved in making the fraudulent loans. Rep. Taylor's role in the fraud was never investigated.
CREW also alleges that by accepting campaign contributions from General Electric in apparent direct exchange for support of legislation delaying a clean-up of the Hudson River, and from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe in return for writing a letter with Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) the Department of the Interior requesting an appropriation for the tribe, Rep. Taylor may have accepted a bribe and violated House rules prohibiting Members from receiving anything of value from those seeking official action and prohibiting the dispensation of special favors.
Finally, the complaint alleges that by owning Blue Ridge Savings and Loan and a Russian bank, the Commercial Bank of Ivanovo, Rep. Taylor is violating House rules prohibiting members from providing services involving fiduciary relationships.
CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, "It is past time for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to investigate whether Rep. Taylor's role as bank owner conflicts with his role as a member of Congress and whether he has used his official position for his financial benefit." Sloan continued, "In addition, the Department of Justice should investigate why the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina never investigated Rep. Taylor's role in the Cagle loans. It appears that Rep. Taylor avoided indictment in that case because he is a powerful Member of Congress. The Department of Justice has stated that investigating public corruption is a priority. This case gives the Department a chance to stand behind its words."
A copy of CREW’s complaint is available on its Web site, http://www.citizensforethics.org.
To view the press release/complaint on CREW's Web site, go to: http://www.citizensforethics.org/press/newsrelease.php?view=137.