Rangel, Waters fight ethics charges as Black support mounts

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WASHINGTON (NNPA) —As U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., prepares to fight 13 ethics charges, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, another leading member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has also come under scrutiny.

A House panel has announced that Rep. Maxine Waters has been charged with violating ethics rules, setting the stage for a second election-season trial for a longtime Democratic lawmaker and adding to the party’s political woes.

Rangel-Ethics
REP. CHARLES RANGEL

The charges against Waters, a 10-term California congresswoman, focus on whether she broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband was a board member and owned stock. She immediately denied the charges.

The House Ethics Committee’s announcement comes just days after it outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., including failing to disclose assets and income, delayed payment of federal taxes and improper use of a subsidized New York apartment for his campaign office.

Rangel, the former Ways and Means Committee chairman who has served for 40 years, faces a trial in the fall.

The investigations have been blasted by pundits as racially disparate.

Black leaders, including political scientist Dr. Ron Walters, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.—chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Danny Bakewell, chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, have warned against rushing to judgment.

Waters-Ethics
REP. MAXINE WATERS

“Of course, we know that one of the most important principles of America’s democracy is due process, that a person is innocent of any charges until all the facts are in and that person is either proven guilty or acquitted of the charges,” said Bakewell in an op-ed posted by the NNPA News Service. “This due process must be respected in the ethics charges against Mr. Rangel. He has admitted some mistakes, but we need not rush to judgment as was in the flagrant case involving Shirley Sherrod,” Bakewell wrote.

Rangel was an NNPA “Legacy of Excellence” Award recipient at the organization’s annual convention, held in New York in June.

Lee said in a statement, “All Americans are entitled to a fair and due process, and that right extends to Congressman Rangel as well. Any rush to judgment to short-circuit the ongoing review of Congressman Rangel by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will do a disservice to the well established processes of the House of Representatives.”

Walters said the Black members are suspiciously going through the full process while White lawmakers are getting off the hook.

“Well, you get it; if you have the money of Sen. Jane Harmon or the power of John Murtha, very little will happen to you,” he said. “I’m not defending Black members of Congress who violate ethics rules, but as long as Whites are exonerated, so should Blacks.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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