Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pelosi Changes Mind On Weiner

The decision on whether U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner will remain in the congress should be made, former Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, by Mr. Weiner and his New York constituents. But over the weekend the lady changed her mind.

Declining to call for Mr. Weiner’s resignation, Mrs. Pelosi had instead asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Weiner misused any government resources. Connecticut U.S. Reps John Larson and Rosa DeLauro concurred.

A recent poll of registered voters in Weiner's district showed 56 percent of those surveyed saying Mr. Weiner should remain in office, while 33 percent said he should be dumped. Mr. Weiner, a seven term Democrat who admitted to sending over the internet sexually explicit photos to half a dozen women over the past three years, declined to resign.

Mr. Weiner received additional support from Rep. Charles Rangel, recently censured by the House last year for ethics violations. Mr. Rangel pointed out that other members of Congress had done things more immoral than Weiner. Mr. Rangel said his Democratic colleague in the House "wasn't going with prostitutes. He wasn't going out with little boys."

Neither was he avoiding the payment of taxes, a charge against Mr. Rangel that may have disappointed some of his constituents, but apparently not in sufficient numbers to deprive Mr. Rangel of his seat among his fellow moralists in the U.S. Congress. This is what Rangel did to merit his censure:

• He paid discount rates for his three rent controlled apartments in New York when, legally, he was eligible only for a single unit.

• He failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on congressional disclosure forms.

• He failed to pay taxes on rental income from a home in the Dominican Republic.

• He saved a tax loophole worth many millions of dollars for an oil drilling company that donated to a school to be named for Rangel at City College of New York.

• He violated ethics rules by soliciting for the school on congressional stationery and using taxpayer money to mail his fund-raising requests.

“Despite this horrendous record,” the New Haven Register commented at the time, “two members of the state’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1, and U.S. Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-3, thought Rangel’s conduct merited only a reprimand, instead of censure, the harshest condemnation short of expulsion from Congress.

“The pair voted to reprimand Rangel, apparently agreeing with one supporter of the measure that nothing Rangel did was dishonest or corrupt. When that measure was soundly defeated, DeLauro and Larson voted for censure.”

The Larson-DeLauro vote for a reprimand, the paper averred, was “a symptom of the insiders club in Washington that allowed Rangel to think he could do what he wanted, regardless of the laws and rules he had sworn to uphold.”

Before Mrs. Pelosi’s turn of mind, Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, still firmly tied to Mrs. Pelosi’s upon strings, “seemed to indicate Weiner should stay in office while the Ethics Committee goes through what could be a lengthy probe.

"’Leader Pelosi was right to call for an investigation into this matter, and it ought to proceed in as timely a fashion as possible,’ Larson said in a statement to Politico”

Mrs. DeLauro last month introduced along with Mr. Weiner a bill, the National Infrastructure Development Bank Act of 2011, that would create and fund a national bank similar to the European Investment Bank bill. The Rosa DeLauro-Keith Ellison-Anthony Weiner-Steve Israel bill would direct public and private dollars toward transportation, environmental, energy and telecommunications infrastructure projects, according to her web site.

The lay of the land inside the club is startlingly different as one moves outside the magic circle into the real world.

Mrs. Pelosi called for the resignation of Mr. Weiner on Saturday around noon during a slow news period. She urged Mr. Weiner to “seek help without the pressures of being a member of Congress.” Her surprise announcement left Mr. Larson and Mrs. DeLauro dangling awkwardly from their nooses. It will not take either of them long to recover, and a similar announcement may soon be expected from both. Mr. Rangel, however, may be unmoved by such moral heroics. The lay of the land inside the club looks very different after you have been censured.
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