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Hire Clears the Way for Rangel Investigation

5 years ago
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"Politics Daily" has learned that the House ethics committee, officially the House Committee on Standards and Conduct, will announce today that it has hired Blake Chisam as its top staff member.

Why is this important?

This is the Congressional committee responsible for investigating ethics complaints against members of the House of Representatives, including current allegations against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). The committee has had no permanent lead staffer for more than eight months, stymieing nearly all progress on those and other investigations.

Chisam is a senior staff member of the committee's Democratic chairwoman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), but also has the endorsement of the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Joe Bonner. (R-AL). Bonner said Chisam is, "a leader that will help us transform the committee into a much more effective, efficient and respected part of this institution."

The committee has been plagued by dysfunction, tragedy and staff vacancies recently. In the summer of 2008, the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, died unexpectedly. The committee then functioned with an interim chair and interim staff director, but made little progress on investigations.

Lofgren took leadership of the Committee in February, but struggled to find a staff director with enough inside knowledge of the House to be effective, but without a partisan reputation that would lead to allegations of bias from either side.

Although other vacancies remain, a senior Congressional staffer familiar with the work of the committee said the hire of Chisam clears the way for significantly faster progress on the investigations of Rangel and others. Rangel has denied any wrongdoing.

The ethics committee has existed since 1798, and is is the same panel that investigated the Abscam affair, the House Post Office scandal and the Mark Foley Congressional page matter, among others.
Filed Under: The Capitolist

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