Statement by Common Cause on the House Ethics Committee proceedings against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY.

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  • Dale Eisman

The “trial” of Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) unfolding today in the House Ethics Committee is powerful evidence of the House’s continuing need for an independent ethics watchdog, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

Common Cause has no idea of whether Rep. Rangel is guilty of breaking House rules, as alleged. It is the Ethics Committee’s job to determine that.

What is clear is that it has taken far too long – three years — for the Ethics Committee to arrive at this day of reckoning.

“The public interest would have been far better served by an independent inquiry, like the OCE has done in more than five dozen cases since its creation in 2008,” Edgar said. “The OCE has employed a professional, non-partisan staff and generally has concluded its inquiries in a few months, at most without the slightest suggestion that it has pursued a partisan agenda.”

The Ethics Committee retained sole jurisdiction over the Rangel case – despite the creation of the OCE – since the first allegations against Mr. Rangel were raised in 2007, before the OCE was open for business.

“It’s disconcerting, to put it mildly, to hear reports that leaders of the incoming 112th Congress are determined to shut OCE down when they take office in January. If those leaders are serious in their desire to run a more ethical, accountable Congress, they’ll make retaining and strengthening the OCE a top priority.”