Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Minority officials and the Democratic Party

The challenge of dealing with minority officials who run afoul of the law is a preeminently Democratic problem and will certainly arise again when the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct makes its report on some questionable activities by Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. Rangel is accused of failure to report income, circumventing New York City’s rent-control laws by occupying four of the cut-rate units, not the allowable one, and using official House stationery to raise money for a school of public affairs at the City College of New York that is named for him. In light of the reluctance of Democratic leaders to stand up to the chorus of support for Burris, they could find themselves accused of dealing less aggressively with minority corruption than with malfeasance by whites. This would be difficult enough given the importance of minorities to the Democratic coalition. What compounds the situation is the readiness of African-American politicians to make the accused into racial martyrs.

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