Opinion

Commentary: Democrats must 'drain the swamp'

Democrats in Congress are wringing their hands in dismay because two prominent colleagues in the House of Representatives have been accused of using their clout to promote their own selfish interests, in violation of House rules. Instead of worrying, they should celebrate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously promised to "drain the swamp" back in 2006 when Democrats successfully campaigned against corruption in the Republican-led Congress. She formed the Office of Congressional Ethics two years later to show that she meant business.

Now, the charges filed against Reps. Charles Rangel of New York and Maxine Waters of California are putting her promises to the ultimate test -- public ethics trials against members of her own party at a time when the GOP is hoping to recapture control of the House.

Backing down at this point, even though both Mr. Rangel and Ms. Waters profess that they did nothing wrong, would send the wrong message. There is no better way to make the point that ethical lapses will not be tolerated than to follow through with these trials instead of reaching a settlement that would amount to a slap on the wrist.

The charges against both members are serious enough to warrant trials. Among the 13 charges against Mr. Rangel is that he sought contributions for an educational center that would bear his name from companies that had major legislative matters before the powerful Ways and Means Committee he chaired.

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