September 13th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Should Rangel, Waters ethics trials be postponed until after elections?


FILE PHOTO: Maxine Waters [LEFT] (D-CA) speaks as Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), and Rep. Charles Rangel [RIGHT] (D-NY) listen during a news conference on Capitol Hill (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As long as we keep re-electing the same vermin, this is the kind of garbage we get that passes for government.

The Hill newspaper reports that watchdog groups expect the ethics trials for Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters to be delayed until - you guessed it - after the November election.

One group suggests that holding ethics hearings right before the midterms "overly politicizes" the ethics process.

But what about the voters? Don't they have a right to know whether or not their lawmakers are guilty of ethics charges before voting for or against them?

The way it works is the ethics committee must provide the member charged with all the evidence it plans to present in a trial - at least 15 days before the trial starts. So even if the committee gave Rangel and Waters their evidence this week, the trials couldn't start until the beginning of October... right around when Congress will likely leave town - again - to go home and campaign.

Meanwhile, the ethics panel investigated Rangel for almost two years before accusing him of several violations... including not paying taxes on a Dominican Republican villa and improperly using his office to raise millions of dollars for an education center named after him.

Two years!

Waters is accused of using her position to help a bank - where her husband owns stock - win millions of dollars in federal bailout funds.

Both lawmakers insist they are innocent and will fight the charges in a public trial. Waters has already won her primary in California and doesn't face a serious challenge in the general election. Rangel still needs to win tomorrow's primary here in New York.

Here’s my question to you: Should the ethics trials of Reps. Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters be postponed until after the November elections?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Election Process • Elections • Ethics
August 2nd, 2010
06:00 PM ET

Will ethics issues haunt the Democrats come Nov.?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Remember when Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" after the Democrats took control of the House a few years back? Well turns out some of her high-profile Democratic colleagues may be swimming in that very swamp.
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Two senior Democrats in the House of Representatives now face possible ethics trials - which is just about the last thing Democrats need headed into what's already shaping up to be a brutal midterm election.

Long-time New York Congressman Charlie Rangel has been formally charged with 13 counts of violating House ethics rules... including not paying taxes on rental income from the Dominican Republic.

Several House Democrats have already called on Rangel, a 20-term veteran, to resign.... and President Obama says he hopes Rangel can "end his career with dignity."

Then there's California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Today, the ethics panel charged her with breaking House rules by using her position to get federal bailout money for a bank with ties to her husband.

While Rangel admits to making mistakes... Waters insists she's done nothing wrong.

For their part, top Democrats insist these potential trials show that the ethics process is working. We'll see about that.

Really? They're both still there.

Meanwhile, this could create a situation similar to elections past where ethics scandals dominated the news... and control of the House passed from one party to the other.

In 2006, the Republicans ran into a series of scandals... including then-Senate Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Congressman Duke Cunningham.

They lost the House to the Democrats.

In 1994 - it was the Democrats that lost the House... amid allegations that top Democrats misused funds from the House Post Office.

Here’s my question to you: Will ethics issues haunt the Democrats come November?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • Elections • Ethics
February 20th, 2009
05:00 PM ET

Will Dems self-destruct over ethics issues?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Democrats gained control of Congress in 2006 by effectively hammering Republicans over a "culture of corruption". But as the Associated Press points out - that very same theme may wind up now biting the Democrats in the you-know-what.

Will Dems self-destruct over ethics issues?

Burris, Blagojevich, and Daschle have all been entangled in ethics scandals in recent months.

When it comes to ethical behavior, it turns out Senator Roland Burris of Illinois is only the latest in a pretty long line of embarrassments. Burris now admits he tried to raise money for ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich - who allegedly tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich was, of course, another black eye for the Democrats.

Then there's New York Congressman Charlie Rangel - he's the subject of a House ethics investigation for a couple of different issues.

And Pennsylvania Congressman Jack Murtha is under scrutiny, as well... since the feds raided two defense contractors that got millions of dollars in funding from Murtha.

Then come the Democrats with tax "issues". Both Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer stepped down from potential posts in Pres. Obama's inner circle. And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was confirmed only after it was revealed that he had failed to pay some of his taxes.

Another would-be cabinet member, Bill Richardson, didn't make the cut due to a grand jury investigation. And the president had to waive his own ethics regulations regarding lobbying ties in order to confirm William Lynn as Deputy Defense Secretary.

During the campaign last fall, Obama struck a chord with the American people when he vowed to clean up Washington and change the way business is done.

Here’s my question to you: Are the Democrats threatening to self-destruct over ethics issues?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Democrats • Ethics
February 21st, 2008
06:30 PM ET

Mess for McCain?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Someone is lying. The New York Times dropped a bombshell on John McCain this morning with a front page story that could cost him the White House.

It's great reading… an improper relationship with a lobbyist, a woman named Vicki Iseman. His inner circle convinced they were having an affair. All happening while he was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and she was representing clients who had business before McCain's committee. The two of them together at fundraisers, in his office, aboard private corporate jets. It got so bad his closest friends and advisers finally stepped in to save McCain from himself. This is all according to the New York Times.

Problem with the story is it's a little "skinny." Most of it is based on unnamed sources, which detracts from its credibility. On the other hand, the Times byline contains the names of four reporters who were not likely to go to their editors and say, "Look what we've got," if they didn't have it.

And reportedly as far back as last December, McCain was pleading with the editors of the Times not to run the story.

McCain's explanation for all of this comes up short. "It's not true," ain't going to cut it. For one thing, McCain has been here before. Remember the Keating 5 and the savings and loan scandal?

And it's highly unlikely the Times information from McCain's inner circle is all false. You don't publish a story of this magnitude unless you're on pretty solid ground. Stay tuned… cause there's a lot more to come.

Here’s my question to you: How much will newspaper stories raising questions about John McCain’s ethics and his alleged relationship with a woman lobbyist hurt his presidential chances?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: 2008 Election • Ethics • John McCain
January 30th, 2008
05:55 PM ET

Ethics violations & our government?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In case you're not convinced our government is broken, consider this: A new study shows that almost 60% of government employees at all levels - federal, state and local - say they've seen violations of ethical standards, policies or laws at their workplaces in the last year. This includes everything from conflicts of interest, abusive behavior, altering documents and financial records to lying to employees, vendors or the public.

And apparently it's worse at the state and local levels. The nonprofit research group "Ethics Resource Center" found 63% of those at the local level witnessed at least one kind of misconduct. At the state level, it was 57%, and 52% at the federal level.

And it's going to get worse. The head of this group says it looks like we're headed toward more ethical misconduct in government in the future, not less.

They found that 30% of the incidents go unreported. One reason for that is some employees who reported misconduct said they experienced retaliation. Researchers also say there aren't enough systems in place to stop these problems once they're exposed.

The center says the answer to this problem is what it calls a "strong ethical culture." A lovely idea to be sure. But when you watch example after example of government dishonesty and abuse go uninvestigated and unpunished, what's the message? That it doesn't matter because no one will do anything about it anyway.

Here’s my question to you: Does it surprise you that almost 60% of government employees at all levels say they've seen ethics violations at work?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Ethics