>Racial disparity or valid ethics investigation?

>Joel Dreyfuss at theRoot.com probes the question about whether black politicians accused of unethical conduct are being targeted because of a conspiracy theory or if it’s a reflection of the power black politicians have gained within the last decade. For those who aren’t familiar with the politicians he’s referring to, here’s a refresher:

-New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, powerful Democratic member of Congress, who recently decided to temporarily step aside from the House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship amid findings by the House Ethics Committee for violating rules of receiving gifts. He’s also admitted failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, failing to report several thousands dollars in assets on federal disclosure forms, under scruitiny for misusing a rental home for political purposes and preserving tax benefits for oil drilling companies in exchange for donations for a project he supported at City College of New York, according to the CNN story referenced.

-New York Governor David Paterson, who is under fire for trying to influence a young woman who acccused one of his aides of domestic violence. Despite the numerous ethics charges against him, Paterson has refused to resign his seat.

-Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who was stripped of his chairmanship while serving on the City Council after a Washington attorney found he benefited from a $15,000 personal services contract he secured for sometimes-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. 

Dreyfuss’ commentary is interesting, but I’m not sure if I buy into these inquiries being part of a conspiracy theory by the media and those conducting the investigation of these politicians.


He alludes to a November 2009 Politico article that also explores how Congressional Black Caucus members feel about the possibility of a racial disparity in ethics investigations. In the article, Politico points out that while some CBC members are wary of publicly crying racism, they privately believe there is a sort of conspiracy against them:


“Is there concern whether someone is trying to set up [Congressional Black Caucus] members? Yeah, there is,” a black House Democrat said. “It looks as if there is somebody out there who understands what the rules [are] and sends names to the ethics committee with the goal of going after the [CBC].”


I’m not going to sit here and say that racism no longer exists and that we are in a “post-racial” America. I’m not going to say that race is not a factor in American life. My previous blogs will prove that I strongly argue against the notion that in the age of Obama, we have moved beyond race.


But it’s hard to argue against the New York Times’ piece about the CBC’s spending habits. According to the article:


From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network. (Data for 2009 is not available.)


The article also noted the CBC Foundation spent more on caterer for an event in 2008–$700,000 for what was referred to as “Hollywood on the Potomac”–than it did on scholarships. That type of disparity should be enough to leave anyone scratching their heads and say, “Hm…” The Times’ piece also points out that the CBC has been criticized for its ties to businesses that are seen as detrimental to its black constituents, such as cigarette companies, Internet poker operators, beer brewers and those in the rent-to-own industry. 


It’s hard for me to lend my support to organizations that have consistently done nothing to improve the lives of their constituents. It’s also hard for me to cry racism just because these men and I share the same skin complexion and race. 


For so long, the Congressional Black Caucus has relied on the support–and oblivion–of lay black Americans. Blacks in this country have consistently turned the other cheek and elected shady and cunning politicians just because they show up to a few church services and shout “Praise God!” alongside us in the pews. In the age of Obama, we can no longer afford to shoot for lower standards and mediocre morals and ethics in our politicians. We need to demand more of our black “leaders” (and I use that term VERY loosely) and call them out on their misdeeds.


It’s clear that the Congressional Black Caucus does NOT have our interest at hand. These people, for the most part, are wealthy and do not care about the average black family living in poverty or the average black family struggling to send their children to college. Sure, they pass a few token pieces of legislation and run back to their districts to claim they’ve done something for us. But, when it all comes down to it, the CBC isn’t looking out for us.


What do you think? Are these ethics charges valid or do they reek of a racial conspiracy?