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Dems throw Pete Stark Raving Mad under the bus

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By Michelle Malkin  •  March 4, 2010 11:58 AM

Pete Stark

I talked about Democrat Rep. Pete Stark Raving Mad on Hannity last night — giving a quick review of his infamous outburts and indiscretion, which have been long-chronicled on this blog. The water-carriers at Media Matters took the usual manufactured umbrage at any mention of basket case Stark’s unseemly brush with the House Ethics Committee.

But the Soros-bots conveniently omit the facts of the matter and the conflict between the pushovers on the House Ethics Committee and the more independent Office of Congressional Ethics, as reported by left-leaning Talking Points Memo:

Tension between two Congressional ethics bodies boiled over today in connection to an investigation of a California congressman.

The House Ethics committee announced that it had voted unanimously to dismiss a probe into whether Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) improperly took advantage of a tax break for Maryland homeowners.

But in its report on the case (posted below), the panel used unusually harsh language to slam the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which had itself voted unanimously to recommend that the Ethics committee — officially known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — continue the probe, and had found that Stark likely violated the law.

The Ethics committee, which is chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), charged that OCE “conducted an inadequate review, the result of which was to subject Representative Stark to unfounded criminal allegations.” [Late Update: See below for OCE’s response]

OCE’s own report — which was included as an appendix to the Ethics committee report — found that Stark misrepresented information to the state of Maryland in applying for a tax break, worth thousands, on a waterfront home. In order to qualify for the tax break, homeowners must use the home address for voting and obtaining a drivers license, according to state law. Stark told the state that he voted in Maryland, but in fact votes in California and has a California drivers license. OCE also found that Stark had misled OCE investigators during an interview on the matter.

But the Ethics committee’s report puts the thrust of those findings into question. It concludes that Stark received no benefit from his mistake, because he corrected the error before Maryland ever adjudicated his application for a tax credit.

“The evidence clearly establishes that Representative Stark did not receive a tax credit as a result of filing for the credit,” the committee writes. “The evidence also establishes that he did not file a false application for the Maryland property tax credit.”

OCE was created as a quasi-independent ethics body in the wake of the Abramoff scandal, to address concerns that the Ethics committee was not pursuing investigations of House members with sufficient aggressiveness.

In any case, Stark Raving Mad has now been thrown under the bus. After one day on the job replacing corruptocrat Charlie Rangel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Stark is handing over the gavel to Democrat Rep. Sander Levin:

Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) will take the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee and Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) will step aside, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Democratic Caucus on Thursday morning, sources in attendance said.

Stark, the No. 2 Democrat on the panel, has been serving as acting chairman since Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) surrendered the gavel Wednesday. Pelosi explained the switch to Democrats on Thursday by saying Stark preferred to keep the reins of the panel’s Subcommittee on Health. But it became clear after hours of meetings by Democrats on the panel Wednesday that Stark — who has a history of off-color remarks and ethics issues of his own — lacked support for moving into the chairmanship.

Aides familiar with the panel’s huddles Wednesday said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.), both Ways and Means members, made the case to Stark that he would be an inviting target for Republicans and a distraction for politically endangered Democrats if he assumed control.

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Categories: Democrats, Nancy Pelosi