TPM News

Blake Chisam, the chief counsel of the ethics committee and its de facto prosecutor, recommended today that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) be censured.

Chisam said that Rangel's 11 ethics violations are severe enough to demand censure, a formal rebuke from the House. The full House ethics committee will decide which sanction, if any, to recommend to the House, which will make the final decision by a full vote.

Rangel, who left an ethics subcommittee hearing earlier this week, is in the committee room today, making the case for light discipline and asking for mercy from the committee.

The backlash against RNC Chair Michael Steele has gone public. Gathering in California this week, the members of the Republican Governors Association shot some arrows back at RNC headquarters in Washington, openly calling for Steele's replacement.

Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that current RGA chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour -- whom many Republicans saw as the defacto leader of the GOP instead of Steele in the past election -- was direct in his call for a change at the RNC.

"Asked in an interview...whether there should be a new chairman of the party," Barbour "flatly said 'Yes.'"

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In a dramatic change of tone -- compared to the bluster and indignation of the past week -- Rep. Charlie Rangel today asked for mercy from the House ethics committee, invoking his time in the military and his 40 years in the House.

"How can 40 witnesses, 30,000 pages of transcripts, over 550 exhibits measure against my forty years of service and commitment to this Body I love so much? I ask the Committee in reviewing the sanctions to take that into serious consideration, as well as the effects this ordeal has had on my wife, family and constituents," he said in a statement released this morning.

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A former congressional aide to Rep. Don Young (R-AK) helped the FBI with criminal investigations of two unnamed members of Congress, even secretly recording a conversation at the request of the bureau, according to filing by the Justice Department this week.

Mark Zachares, the former special counsel to Young on the House Transportation Committee who pleaded guilty back in 2007 to one count of fraud related to gifts and travel he received from lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates, is set to be sentenced in federal court next week. The Anchorage Daily News first reported on the motion.

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Joe Miller may not be ready to give up on the Alaska Senate race, but the Republican Party of Alaska sure is.

In a statement yesterday, AK GOP Chairman Randy Ruedrich said: "This was a free and fair election. It is now time to look forward. We call on Joe Miller to respect the will of the voters and end his campaign in a dignified manner. We have every expectation that Joe will do the right thing."

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Outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer today chastised Republicans for not accommodating President Obama, and delaying the post-election "Slurpee Summit" until after Thanksgiving.

"I can never remember an instance when President Bush asked me or the Democratic leadership to come down and meet with him that we did not accommodate our schedule to that request," Hoyer said at a press availability this morning. "I think that is not only respectful with the President of the United States but it also furthers the ability to solve the problems confronting our country. I was disappointed."

According to Hoyer this most recent episode is part and parcel of their generally dismissive attitude toward the President going back to his election.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General (and governor-elect) Andrew Cuomo announced today that they are suing Steve Rattner for kickbacks he allegedly paid in exchange for investments in his equity firm from New York state's pension fund.

Rattner, who helped the Obama administration orchestrate the auto industry bailout, has already agreed to settle the SEC suit by paying $6.2 million and agreeing to stay away from investment advisers and broker-dealers for two years.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took another step toward embracing the Republican Party's new tea party mandate in a speech before the Federalist Society's annual convention in Washington this morning. Ripping a page right from the tea party hymnal, McConnell pledged to hold a vote on "full repeal" of the landmark health care law signed this year by President Obama, suggesting that unless Republicans can kill the legislation, America could be headed for a tyrannical police state.

Fear of the health care law -- and more specifically, its individual mandate clause requiring the public to purchase health insurance as a way to bring down overall medical costs -- was a tea party mantra on the campaign trail, with conservative activists claiming it would lead to everything from out-of-control spending increases to government-run death panels that will decide who lives or dies. McConnell embraced some of that terror in his speech today.

"By preventing the accumulation of excessive power, the Constitution is designed to reduce the risk of tyranny or abuse at either the Federal or state levels," McConnell told the audience of conservative legal scholars. "The health care bill would remove an important bulwark of this protection."

"So fighting this mandate couldn't be more important," he added.

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