Ellsworth Unloads Rangel Donations

Posted July 23, 2010 at 5:19pm

Rep. Brad Ellsworth, the Democratic Senate nominee in Indiana, released a statement Friday saying that he is donating past campaign contributions he received from Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) to charity.

Ellsworth’s move comes a day after the House ethics committee announced that an investigative subcommittee found reason to believe that Rangel violated House rules or even broke the law, following a nearly two-year investigation into allegations involving his personal finances, fundraising efforts and other issues. The committee is convening a panel to determine whether there was an actual rules violation.

“The bottom line, with Mr. Rangel or with anyone else in public office, is that actions have consequences,” Ellsworth said. “Those who violate the public’s trust must be held accountable and punished appropriately for their behavior. In light of these serious charges, there must be a thorough and expeditious trial.”

Ellsworth received $12,000 from Rangel from 2005 to 2007. The former Ways and Means chairman had not donated to Ellsworth’s Senate campaign. Ellsworth, who is one of the first Democratic candidates to refund Rangel’s money after the ethics announcement, said he would give the money to Indiana charities.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been putting pressure on Democratic candidates to return Rangel’s donations in an attempt to get political mileage out of the House ethics probe.

On Thursday, the NRSC issued a news release targeting Ellsworth and other Democratic Senate hopefuls, including Reps. Kendrick Meek (Fla.), Charlie Melancon (La.), Paul Hodes (N.H.), Joe Sestak (Pa.) and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway.

“Now that a bipartisan committee of his peers has determined that Rangel likely violated a range of key ethics rules, why does Ellsworth still stand by him and hold tight to his campaign cash?” NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said in the release. “Actions speak louder than words, and Brad Ellsworth’s decision to condone unethical behavior in Congress speaks volumes.”

Ellsworth faces former Sen. Dan Coats (R) in November.