Wednesday, March 03, 2010

That was then and....

In 2004, when then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay was admonished by the Ethics Committee, then-Minority Leader Pelosi demanded his ouster from the Republican leadership. With respect to Rangel, by contrast, her reaction is more nuanced. Here is an interview this week with Elizabet Vargas of ABC:

Vargas: The Ethics Committee on Charles Rangel said that he has violated the House gift rule.
Pelosi: Uh-huh.
Vargas: How can he remain in such a powerful position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee?
Pelosi: Well, I think--
Vargas: Given the fact that there are further pending ethics investigations and this public admonishment has taken place.
Pelosi: Well, it is a public admonishment. It said he did not knowingly violate House rules. So that gives him some comfort. But the fact is that we have a--
Vargas: He should have known though, don't you think?
Pelosi: Well, I don't know. You understand that the Ethics Committee is an independent, bipartisan committee in the House. They act independent of us. And that's exactly the way it should be. I, though, when I became speaker, instituted an outside ethics panel which makes recommendations in so that we have a double way to receive information, although the ethics committee can self initiate, as well as take recommendations from the outside panel. So we're going to look forward to seeing what else they have to say about what they have before him regarding Chairman Rangel.
Vargas: If there are further admonishments, though, should he remain in this position?
Pelosi: Well, let's why don't we just give him a chance to hear what the independent, bipartisan--they work very hard to reach their conclusions and we obviously there's more to come here.
Vargas: And but you don't--you understand this is why so many Americans think Congress is corrupt. It just doesn't--it doesn't look good. It doesn't pass the smell test.
Pelosi: No, it doesn't. No, it doesn't. I served for seven years on the Ethics Committee and the last thing I would have wanted would be for the Speaker of the House to interfere in a political way in what was going on there. That just should never happen. But the fact is, is that what Mr. Rangel has been admonished for is not good. It was a violation of the rules of the House. It was not a--something that jeopardized our country in any way.

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