The Depressing Rangel Censure: Unethical Culture on Display


It takes quite a bit of doing for the public punishment of a revered figure for unethical conduct to make an institution appear more unethical itself, but the U.S. House of Representatives was up to the challenge yesterday.

As expected, Rep. Charlie Rangel, former ly the powerful Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, received a censure by majority vote, the harshest punishment a Member can receive short of expulsion. Rangel had been found guilty of five major ethical violations, or as they should properly be called, five instances of ongoing egregious unethical conduct. Charley and friends like to say “ethical violations” because that can be spun into mere carelessness, like not putting enough money on the meter. From the beginning, Rangel’s line has been that he made “mistakes,” suggesting they were either accidental or that he didn’t realize they were unethical. Think about that as you review the five: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Rep. Bobby Scott

A popular, effective and unethical prosecutorial practice among federal investigators is to coerce  businesses and individuals into waiving the attorney client privilege by threatening indictments. The privilege of having absolutely private communications with one’s attorneys in order to get legal advice is a linchpin of the justice system and each citizen’s access to fair treatment under the law.  Forcing individuals to give the privilege up under threat of prosecution is and has always been wrong; after all, a waiver made under a threat is hardly “voluntary.”  U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-Va.), has now introduced H.R. 4326, complementing legislation filed in the Senate earlier this year by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, to bar this practice. Continue reading