Tough Decisions

Our new Democratic congress isn't yet seated and a slight aroma of corruption is wafting through the halls of the congressional office buildings. This time, though it isn't coming from the Republicans.

Yes, it's the same two men who were under investigation before November's elections, Alan Mollohan and William Jefferson.

According to The Hill:

If incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and fellow leaders decide to keep Jefferson off Ways and Means, they could open themselves to charges of following a double standard by allowing Mollohan to become chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee, as he is now poised to do.

Top Democrats are dealing with questions regarding what to do about Jefferson and Mollohan at the same time that they must decide how to reward lawmakers who have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the party but find themselves with less seniority than stingier colleagues on subcommittees.

No final decisions have been made, but it seems to me that either both get their committees/subcommittees, or both do not.

Please follow below the fold...

Our own Mel Watt has this to say:

Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), the chairman of the black caucus, said in an interview yesterday that Jefferson should be reinstated.

“There is no historical standard or precedent for removing someone from a committee, and … to do so disadvantages the member’s constituents; it doesn’t punish the members,” said Watt.

“I’m sure we’ll communicate our support anew, yes, and support his effort to be reinstated,” said Watt. “It’s appropriate for me as chair of CBC and for the CBC, in light of previous support, to express our opinion on the issue. I’m sure we’ll do it timely and in an appropriate way.”

While I don't like the idea that Jefferson's or Mollohan's constituents might be punished for their rep's possible wrong-doings, I also don't like the idea that two men who are facing corruptions charges/investigations could be rewarded with positions of power.

You can find contact information for Speaker Pelosi, other House Democratic leaders and the Steering Committee members who will make the decisions about chairmanships here. Please contact them and share with them your feelings. If you think we should seat them on their committees, but make their chairmanships contingent upon the settlement of their respective investigations, please tell our House leaders. If you think both or either of these men should be denied their leadership positions, please tell our House leaders.

They need to hear from us.

Comments

We Need Reform

No question! The decision Pelosi has to make is a tough one and I hope she realizes the double standard you discuss in your blog post.

I think she should give both the boot and signal the Democrats are serious about reforming the culture of corruption that exists on Capital Hill.

That's pretty much how I feel

I realize that Mollohan's charges were brought by a conservative watchdog group, and I don't know enough of the facts to say whether he really did anything wrong.

There was also a fun article recently about how Pelosi is bucking the seniority system to seat some of the young Democrats in the House on committees. Some of these folks worked really hard to help with re-election efforts. They will help put a new face on the Democratic Party. If you haven't watched the late-night antics of the 30-Something Working group, you're missing some fun.

I was hoping maybe she could find some creative solution. Maybe give them their committees, but immediately require they relinquish leadership until their cases are resolved. That way, if there are never any charges, their seat has been saved. That just seems so messy, though. You're probably right. Tough love might just be best.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Watt's right. And wrong.

“There is no historical standard or precedent for removing someone from a committee, and … to do so disadvantages the member’s constituents; it doesn’t punish the members,” said Watt.

These days I don't have much patience for questions of historical standard and precedent. Because the "historical standard" is that Congress is happy to condone corruption and sleaze among its members. Democrat or Republican, it matters not to me. Guys who push beyond the bounds of ethics should be summarily removed from positions of leadership. Period.

The member's constituents are one important block of stakeholders, but they are far less important in my mind than the integrity of the institution.

Republican failed miserably on every dimension of ethical conduct. If Democrats do the same, they will suffer a similar fate. People are fed up. I am fed up.

Watt is wrong on this one.

I understand the CBC standing up for a member

Watt didn't exactly sound like his support for Jefferson was overwhelming. I think they would have an argument if Mollohan was seated and Jefferson was not.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

That's right

And it would be a powerful argument.

I also agree that Mel was tiptoeing around the issue . . . and has plenty of historical justification for telling the white majority to take a flying leap. But integrity has to take root some time. And NOW is usually a good time to start.

Absolutely



Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

On one hand it punishes the constituents....but

on the other hand they are the ones that voted him back into that position, no doubt that some aren't aware of the corruption charges, but most are. Whether this a stand/message by the voters, our Dem leadership must stand on ethics...integrity...all the things we accused the Repubs of not having. Won't this be seen as business as usual? SOSDD...same old shit different day?

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

I think that's exactly how it would be seen

and that is exactly what we should avoid.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Anglico, CYE, please

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

The WaPo has more details

I should have checked this article before writing. It appears the situation is far more dire for Jefferson than I thought. An indictment is expected early in 2007. I simply don't think you give anyone a leadership position who is this close to being indicted.

Gosh, that sounds familiar!

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

The constituents punish the constituents

If the Democratic party made a blanket statement of policy along the lines of, "If you're under indictment or there is a significant chance you'll be indicted, then you won't get committee seats until you clear your name."

This seems easy.

And as for Jefferson, his constituents deserve what they get. Vote for corruption, get a powerless representative. Vote for ethics, and you do a whole lot better.

This is not a tough choice. Jettison the assholes to teach others that being an asshole just doesn't pay.

Scrutiny Hooligans - http://www.scrutinyhooligans.us

It would seem to eliminate the need for tough decisions

at least where corruption is concerned.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Didn't know where else to post this

and it wouldn't be long enough for my own entry...so here goes:

Today in the Pilot, Morgan to Appeal Board of Elections Decision ....it's about time!

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

I put a little piece on the front page

It certainly deserves the attention. It will be interesting to watch. At least, I hope any hearings are streamed again.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Such B.S.

It's time for someone to send a damn message, and who else than that "San Francisco Liberal Nancy Pelosi". Can you imagine the spin Democrats could do on the nightly shows if they were able to talk about how liberals won't stand for corruption in the halls of power, and unlike the Republicans, we'll kick out anyone who stinks of it.

The Republican meme of "Dirty Democrats" would be beaten back by the "Righteous Liberals" from our side. An end to corruption, or business as usual - that is what this comes down to in the end.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

It would be a strong message

and I would love for it to come from Madame Speaker.

I guess at first I was thinking about what was fair for both men. That isn't really the issue, though is it?

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Fair is fair, that's true.

If i were them I would make up standing rules like:
1. If you are charged with a crime, you will be removed from committee temporarily, but retain the committee seat when investigation proves you are innocent.
2. If you are indicted or convicted or ... well, have bundles of cash in your freezer, you will lose all committee assignments for all time, will be kicked out of the caucus, and have your staff taken away.

Alright, I'm being a little snarky, but you get my drift.

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I understand

but I do like the special cash in the freezer rule.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

federal law.

I would feel safe with a federal law that anyone holding bricks of cash, wrapped in Saran Wrap, in their freezer should go straight to jail. I know, there is probably ONE example of a decent person who does this, but for the most part........

Bricks O' Cash = Crime

I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for. ~ Thornton Wilder

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Frozen assets

If twenties are like tortillas you'll have to thaw them before separating them or they'll tear. Serve with whackamole and subpoena sauce.

Right on, Robert

There should be no place for corruption in a Democratic Congress. Of course they should be denied their seats on these powerful committees. Put them on the Capitol Grounds and Landscaping Committee until they are cleared or charged.

If the constituents are so enamoured with their rep that they will send them back to DC even after the FBI found bricks or marked cash in the rep's freezer, then what should they expect. We're not talking about Republican's treatment of Charles Taylor here. The Democrats have to do this right.

Committe Membership= Benefitting Constituents?

There is no historical standard or precedent for removing someone from a committee, and … to do so disadvantages the member’s constituents; it doesn’t punish the members,” said Watt.

Should service or chairmanship on a comittee primarily be considered a benefit to one's constituency? I suppose it it often true power-wise, but is concentrated political power among senior congressmembers something we should be strivng for? Are these committees then only for the benefit of those constituencies who have representatives on them? Besides perhaps representing an area's/state's potential different philosophical take on a subject, should there really be a direct benefit to them?

Bringing home the bacon

to your voters is a benefit, but that doesn't mean it should be one. I really do like Mel, but this reasoning would have voters sending a corrupt rep back to Washington just because he has seniority? Charles Taylor, Richard Pombo, Bob Ney, Tom DeLay.......Now William Jefferson and Alan Mollohan.

It really is time for a change.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Jefferson is out

Just saw some committee assignments posted on RawStory, and Jefferson was not reappointed to Ways and Means.
http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Harman_Jefferson_snubbed_as_Pelosi_announces_1212.html

To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only UNPATRIOTIC and servile, but it is morally treasonable to the American public.

Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons.

Artur Davis takes Jefferson's spot

on the powerful Ways and Means committee. If you recall, it was Artur Davis who came to Charlotte to support Larry Kissell. Artur Davis worked to get contributions for Larry and to bring him attention at the DCCC. Good Karma. Thank you, Nancy Pelosi.

I realize Davis isn't as far left as some here, but he's an extremely bright rising star in our party. I'm happy with this decision.

Now...for Mollohan.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Thank you, Tom DeLay

It appears that Democrat Ciro Rodriguez has taken the congressional seat from Henry Bonilla (R) in Texas. Ya'll might not recall, but the netroots supported Ciro in the primary against a DINO (Henry Cuellar) early this year.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.