Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, on Tuesday voted against two House resolutions related to Monday’s indictment of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., on charges including bribery, racketeering, money laundering and obstruction of justice.
I asked the notoriously plain-spoken Stark today why he’d opposed the resolutions, and he replied, “My staff made me promise not to say ‘because they were sh—ty bills.’ ”
A Democratic rule change introduced by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., would give the ethics committee 30 days after an indictment to launch a probe or to explain why it won’t; this passed on a 387-10 vote. A resolution offered by Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, referred Jefferson’s case to the ethics committee, demanding that the panel report back on whether his expulsion is merited; that one passed on a 373-26 vote.
Stark said Boehner’s resolution was nothing but “two pages of ‘whereases’ that chronicled Bill Jefferson’s trials and tribulations” followed by a brief exhortation to action the ethics committee already is taking — in short, politically motivated and redundant. “It’s interesting that this came up yesterday at the last minute… to crowd (former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter”) Libby off the front page as he got two and a half years.”
And Hoyer’s resolution, Stark said, “semeed to me a poorly crafted response to a Republican political ploy.” He noted it doesn’t even specify that the crime triggering an ethics investigation be a felony, which “runs the danger of trivializing the ethics process by opening it to people who want to game the system.”
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, both voted for Hoyer’s resolution but opposed Boehner’s. “Barbara basically saw the Boehner vote as political opportunism and saw the Hoyer vote as the principled stand,” Lee spokesman Nathan Britton said this morning.