Two African Americans who are long-time U.S. House members, Charlie Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California, are facing federal ethics trials this fall. Rangel faces 13 counts of wrongdoing, including providing favors in return for donations, hiding income and assets, and failing to pay taxes. Waters faces allegations of improperly trying to help a bank, where her husband owned stock, that was seeking a federal bailout. In total, eight African American members of Congress have been been the subject of investigations since 2009. Appearing on MSNBC Monday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina was asked if he thought black congressmen were being unfairly targeted, as was suggested by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Clyburn asserts:
If you’ve got eight to zero, and you’re 10 percent of the population of the House, then that’s a problem. I would like to know how many non-African Americans were targeted. I understand that it was eight to one, and the one was Eric Massa.
Massa, of New York, resigned in March amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Clyburn says he appreciates the new ethics process that’s in place in the House. But he says he has some problems with it since some investigations may be unfounded:
There are now initiating investigations based upon a newspaper story. Look, I’ve got a lot of political enemies throughout the country. Most of us in public office do have these. So you’re saying my enemies can put out a press release making wild accusations, and that will initiate an investigation?