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.
Reportedly, Waters (D-Calif.) has decided to go to trial rather than be sanctioned for allegedly improperly influencing the receipt of $12 million in bailout funds by the Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank, where her husband owns stock.
Formal charges against Waters by the House Ethics Committee will reportedly be announced next week. Charges against Rangel involve reporting of income on his financial disclosure forms as well as alleged fund-raising violations.
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.
“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,” says Bakewell in an op-ed posted this week 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 says 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 Senator 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.”
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