Eyebrows raised on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning after hearing the news that Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., had sued Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, to vacate his censure by the House.
As Bloomberg reported, the New York Democrat is charging, in a complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the House was "knowingly deceived" by its Ethics Committee members. The former Ways and Means chairman alleges that the panel withheld a memo prepared by a former committee staffer. That memo alleges that the investigation into his ethics violations was tainted by misconduct.
Boehner is named in the suit, but the target really appears to be the bipartisan committee.
“The suppressed material would probably have led to a different outcome,” Rangel’s lawyer, Jay Goldberg, said in the complaint, according to the Bloomberg report. Rangel alleges that “had he known the facts,” he would have “made a motion to dismiss by reason of wrongdoing.”
But the censure occurred in 2010, back when Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was speaker, and Boehner served in her current position, as minority leader for the Republicans. A House GOP aide noted that Boehner was named in Rangel's complaint because the New York congressman believes that the Ohioan's position as the current speaker is integral to his bid to have the censure overturned. As the GOP aide explained in an email:
The complaint "makes clear that Rangel is not suing Boehner. Boehner is a named as a Defendant because Rangel is asking for the Congressional Record to be purged of the censure in 2010 and Boehner — as Speaker (Rangel claims) — can purge the record. Rangel explains that Boehner is necessary in his 'prayer for relief' to purge the Record. The other six lawmakers are alleged [to have committed] the wrongdoing. In fact, the Rangel complaint goes out of its way to explain why Boehner is named. Page 10, paragraph 11 (explanation of why Boehner is named i.e. to get relief) and page 34, paragraph 108 (Third claim for Relief, to purge the Journal) of the complaint."