12-09-2016  3:19 pm      •     

(NNPA) - As Fox News and other media under the grip of the conservative right wing continue a steady drumbeat against U.S. Representatives Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters, Democrats and those on the political left grow increasingly concerned that Rangel and Waters are being successfully converted into the new Willie and Wilma Horton.
That tactic, Democrats worry, could be devastating to President Obama supporters and other Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections in which Republicans and Tea Party supporters try to convince voters that Democrats are too liberal.
Willie Horton was a criminal serving a life sentence for murder, whose face plastered across television campaign ads, helped give Republican George H.W. Bush an overwhelming lead against Democrat Mike Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.
Horton committed assault, armed robbery and raped a white woman after Dukakis granted him a furlough from prison.
Currently only Congress is up for election but the Republicans are attempting to taint the coattails of Barack Obama as too liberal to Blacks and other minorities.
In the upcoming Congressional elections, critics worry that conservatives are angling to use the case of Rangel and Waters as examples of how Obama supporters are soft on corruption and crime. In other words, a growing chorus of people believe Rangel, Waters and perhaps other Black lawmakers are being targeted.
Since Obama has been in the White House there has been no less than eight investigations of Congressional Black Caucus members. Rangel is facing 13 ethics charges. Charges against Rangel involve reporting of income on his financial disclosure forms as well as alleged fund-raising violations.
Waters is being charged with improperly influencing the receipt of $12 million in bailout funds by the Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank, where her husband owns stock.
The trials threaten to tarnish Democrats as they try to turn the midterm elections into a choice between keeping them in power or returning to Bush-era policies. Democratic supporters point out there are much more serious accusations of white members of Congress that are rarely heard in the news media.
Black politicians have attempted to play down the use of the word "racist" in efforts to appear unbiased but whites seem all too eager to use it. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa. has likened the investigations to a "witch hunt."
Though Rangel himself has called the cases a "lynching," Fattah toned down his own comments.
"I don't believe that race has any part of this," he told CBS News, a statement that was later verified to the Tribune by his spokesperson Ron Goldwyn.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee blamed the news media.
"I didn't believe it," Lee said, describing her reaction to the charges being leveled against Rangel and Waters.
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak also seemed to tamp down his own comments to the Tribune.
"The investigation thus far has been by a bipartisan congressional committee," he said, "and — although Americans have lost trust in their elected officials — until shown to be otherwise, I believe the appropriate steps of ensuring fairness and accountability are being taken by the committee."
Ironically, it may have been the Democrats who stirred this investigation up with a comment by Democrat Nancy Pelosi who had vowed to "drain the swamp" of corruption in 2006 in Washington, D.C.
Suspicions were raised by Blacks when in its first year after being formed in 2006 the ethics committee investigated eight Congressional Black Caucus members.
Even though the committee has over 30 active ethics investigations [most of them whites] only Rangel and Waters face charges.
This is the case despite the fact that some of the ethics investigations include Jane Harmon-D-Calif. (foreign-relations committee) accused of pushing legislation that would help a foreign nation; as well as Eric Cantor (R-Va.) , minority whip, accused of using campaign funds illegally.
In the upper chamber, the committee of half Democrats and half Republicans, is also looking into the Senate case of John Ensign-R-Nev., who is facing criminal charges but is barely mentioned by the media, which has kept a persistent drum beat of references to Rangel and Waters over the airwaves.
Some fear the timing.
The investigations follow a recent story by a right-wing blogger who accused a Black official of making racist comments. His accusations were made before he had all the facts. The woman lost her job because of the misinformation. Though Obama offered her another job in the same agency, it was not the same job she had originally.
Such recklessness also led to the downfall of a grassroots organization called ACORN.
Obama, in comments to CBS News, was cautious after pulling the trigger too-quickly following the right-wing blogger's accusations.
He said he believed it was time for Rangel to end his career "with dignity," adding: "I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are very troubling."
Danny Bakewell, president of the National Newspaper Publisher's Association, said "One of the most important principles of America's democracy is due process, that a person is innocent of any charges until all the facts are in and that person is either proven guilty or acquitted of the charges."
In an op-ed piece posted recently by the NNPA News Service, Bakewell said, "This due process must be respected in the ethics charges against Mr. Rangel. He has admitted some mistakes, but we need not rush to judgment as was in the flagrant case involving Shirley Sherrod."
Rangel was an NNPA "Legacy of Excellence" Award recipient at the organization's annual convention, held in New York in June.
Charges back and forth about racism seem to be being thrown around like hand grenades under the Obama administration, especially by "entertainers" like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
When mixed in with issues of immigration, Obama's birth, and gay marriage, ethnicity seems to have become a hot-button issue leveraged by bloggers, as well as radio and television personalities.
Neither Rangel, a 20-term Congressman, or Waters, a 10-term representative, plans to step down without first clearing their names.
In fact, both have insisted that the ethics committee make the specifics of their charges public and proceed with the trials as soon as possible.
Political scientist Ron Walters expressed suspicion with the whole process of the ethics committee investigation: "Well, you get it; if you have the money of Senator Jane Harmon or the power of John Murtha, very little will happen to you. I'm not defending Black members of Congress who violate ethics rules, but as long as whites are exonerated, so should Blacks."
As Fox News and other media under the grip of the conservative right wing continue a steady drumbeat against U.S. Representatives Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters, Democrats and those on the political left grow increasingly concerned that Rangel and Waters are being successfully converted into the new Willie and Wilma Horton.
That tactic, Democrats worry, could be devastating to President Obama supporters and other Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections in which Republicans and Tea Party supporters try to convince voters that Democrats are too liberal.
Willie Horton was a criminal serving a life sentence for murder, whose face plastered across television campaign ads, helped give Republican George H.W. Bush an overwhelming lead against Democrat Mike Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election.
Horton committed assault, armed robbery and raped a white woman after Dukakis granted him a furlough from prison.
Currently only Congress is up for election but the Republicans are attempting to taint the coattails of Barack Obama as too liberal to Blacks and other minorities.
Maxine Waters
In the upcoming Congressiional elections, critics worry that conservatives are angling to use the case of Rangel and Waters as examples of how Obama supporters are soft on corruption and crime. In other words, a growing chorus of people believe Rangel, Waters and perhaps other Black lawmakers are being targeted.
Since Obama has been in the White House there has been no less than eight investigations of Congressional Black Caucus members. Rangel is facing 13 ethics charges. Charges against Rangel involve reporting of income on his financial disclosure forms as well as alleged fund-raising violations.
Waters is being charged with improperly influencing the receipt of $12 million in bailout funds by the Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank, where her husband owns stock.
The trials threaten to tarnish Democrats as they try to turn the midterm elections into a choice between keeping them in power or returning to Bush-era policies. Democratic supporters point out there are much more serious accusations of white members of Congress that are rarely heard in the news media.
Black politicians have attempted to play down the use of the word "racist" in efforts to appear unbiased but whites seem all too eager to use it. U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa. has likened the investigations to a "witch hunt."
Though Rangel himself has called the cases a "lynching," Fattah toned down his own comments.
"I don't believe that race has any part of this," he told CBS News, a statement that was later verified to the Tribune by his spokesperson Ron Goldwyn.
U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee blamed the news media.
"I didn't believe it," Lee said, describing her reaction to the charges being leveled against Rangel and Waters.
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak also seemed to tamp down his own comments to the Tribune.
"The investigation thus far has been by a bipartisan congressional committee," he said, "and — although Americans have lost trust in their elected officials — until shown to be otherwise, I believe the appropriate steps of ensuring fairness and accountability are being taken by the committee."
Ironically, it may have been the Democrats who stirred this investigation up with a comment by Democrat Nancy Pelosi who had vowed to "drain the swamp" of corruption in 2006 in Washington, D.C.
Suspicions were raised by Blacks when in its first year after being formed in 2006 the ethics committee investigated eight Congressional Black Caucus members.
Even though the committee has over 30 active ethics investigations [most of them whites] only Rangel and Waters face charges.
This is the case despite the fact that some of the ethics investigations include Jane Harmon-D-Calif. (foreign-relations committee) accused of pushing legislation that would help a foreign nation; as well as Eric Cantor (R-Va.) , minority whip, accused of using campaign funds illegally.
In the upper chamber, the committee of half Democrats and half Republicans, is also looking into the Senate case of John Ensign-R-Nev., who is facing criminal charges but is barely mentioned by the media, which has kept a persistent drum beat of references to Rangel and Waters over the airwaves.
Some fear the timing.
The investigations follow a recent story by a right-wing blogger who accused a Black official of making racist comments. His accusations were made before he had all the facts. The woman lost her job because of the misinformation. Though Obama offered her another job in the same agency, it was not the same job she had originally.
Such recklessness also led to the downfall of a grassroots organization called ACORN.
Obama, in comments to CBS News, was cautious after pulling the trigger too-quickly following the right-wing blogger's accusations.
He said he believed it was time for Rangel to end his career "with dignity," adding: "I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served his constituents very well, but these allegations are very troubling."
Danny Bakewell, president of the National Newspaper Publisher's Association, said "One of the most important principles of America's democracy is due process, that a person is innocent of any charges until all the facts are in and that person is either proven guilty or acquitted of the charges."
In an op-ed piece posted recently by the NNPA News Service, Bakewell said, "This due process must be respected in the ethics charges against Mr. Rangel. He has admitted some mistakes, but we need not rush to judgment as was in the flagrant case involving Shirley Sherrod."
Rangel was an NNPA "Legacy of Excellence" Award recipient at the organization's annual convention, held in New York in June.
Charges back and forth about racism seem to be being thrown around like hand grenades under the Obama administration, especially by "entertainers" like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
When mixed in with issues of immigration, Obama's birth, and gay marriage, ethnicity seems to have become a hot-button issue leveraged by bloggers, as well as radio and television personalities.
Neither Rangel, a 20-term Congressman, or Waters, a 10-term representative, plans to step down without first clearing their names.
In fact, both have insisted that the ethics committee make the specifics of their charges public and proceed with the trials as soon as possible.
Political scientist Ron Walters expressed suspicion with the whole process of the ethics committee investigation: "Well, you get it; if you have the money of Senator Jane Harmon or the power of John Murtha, very little will happen to you. I'm not defending Black members of Congress who violate ethics rules, but as long as whites are exonerated, so should Blacks."

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