For Immediate Release
Ethics Committee at Least Got Message of Mid-Terms: Americans Want Congress to Put the Public Interest First
WASHINGTON - Common Cause hopes that Thursday’s House Ethics Committee
decision to recommend a formal censure of Rep. Charles Rangel is a
precursor to a new era of tough ethics enforcement in both houses of
"There’s no cause for celebration in the downfall of a man who has done
as much good for as many people as has Charlie Rangel," said Bob Edgar,
Common Cause’s president.
"But Congressman Rangel’s carelessness in managing portions of his
official and personal business, including the use of his position to
solicit charitable contributions for an academic center bearing his
name, is a serious breach of Congress’ ethical standards," Edgar added.
"Mr. Rangel should have known it was wrong to ask for money, even in a
good cause, from individuals and businesses with interests in
legislation before the House – legislation he was well-positioned to
Edgar said the committee’s decision is a hopeful sign that members of
both political parties understand one of the messages of the 2010
election: Americans want their representatives to put the public
interest ahead of personal interests.
"Still, it’s clear that this case – more than two years in the making
– could and should have been resolved much sooner," Edgar said. He
urged the incoming House leadership to preserve and strengthen the
Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency that
was created after the Rangel case arose and so was not involved in it.
"The OCE has investigated dozens of complaints involving other
members with speed and fairness, and without the partisan infighting and
foot-dragging that marked the Ethics Committee’s work on the Rangel
case," Edgar said. "Members will be making a serious mistake if they now
disband or dismember this independent, non-partisan agency."
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.