Looks like Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. 's recent appointment to the House Ethics Committee is going to cost him $19,000 in old campaign contributions.
The Hill, the authoritative journal for the Washington D.C. political establishment, is reporting that Welch has decided to return $19,000 in donations to his campaign to political fundraising committees run by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. Check out the story HERE
“Since Chairman Rangel requested that the committee investigate matters related to him, Congressman Welch has, in an abundance of caution, returned all prior campaign contributions from Mr. Rangel,” Bob Rogan, Welch's chief of staff, said in a statement quoted by The Hill. Let the record show, however, that Welch's Web site contains no mention of the Rangle refund.
What the Ethics Committee is gearing to look into are claims Rangel was living in rent-subsidized apartments in NYC that he owns, didn't report rental income on a villa in the Dominican Republic that he owns and used his Congressional stationery to write fundraising letters for an education center that bears his name.
Federal Election Commission records show that Welch got three $5,000 donations from Rangel's National Leadership PAC in 2006 and 2007, and two $2,000 donations from his Rangel for Congress group in 2006 and 2007.
Sending back $19,000 to Rangel will hardly break the bank for Welch, who finished up his 2008 non-campaign for re-election with $663,313 in cash on hand.
It's the right thing for Welch to do, even if it is a bit tardy. After all, some of the claims involving Rangel have been out there for months, and the Democratic National Committee under Howard Dean's leadership sent back $100,000 to Rangel last summer.
-- Sam Hemingway
PS: Neither Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., or Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., were ever recipients of Rangel committee money.