Saturday, February 27, 2010

Newflash, Speaker Pelosi: Responsibility Matters

Interesting reading...
Speaker Nancy Pelosi – Rep. Charlie Rangel’s most prominent defender – backed the troubled Democrat again on Friday morning, the day after news broke that the House ethics committee was planning to admonish Rangel.

“I think that every member is entitled to have his day before the ethics committee," she said. "They have said he did not knowingly violate the rules. And, again, if this were the end of it, that would be one thing. But there’s obviously more to come and we’ll see what happens with that. But every member has that right.”

Pelosi said, "All I saw was the press release where it said he didn't violate the rules of the House." She noted that the report said Rangel didn't know he was violating rules that applied to a lobbyist-funded trip to the Caribbean.

Pelosi also pointed out that the ethics committee found that Rangel's staffers knew corporate money was paying for trips — even though Rangel didn't.

I think it’s quite a statement to hold members accountable for what their staffs knew,” she said. “I’ll be interested to see how that reverberates.”

Pelosi didn't say one way or another whether Rangel should stay on as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

"Obviously they have other issues to deal with," she said. "We'll just see what happens next and what comes out of the ethics committee."

There are details on the Rangel story here at Politifact, and none of it looks good. And if Rangel had an ounce of shame or decency, he would resign and slither away. But my focus here is on Pelosi's stupidity. She sounds incredulous that a member of Congress can be held accountable for something that his staff members know. She acts as if Rangel has no responsibility here at all.

Bullshit. Rangel took vacations and now pretends he didn't know that corporations paid for them. First, his staff members sent him two emails and one letter telling him that taking the vacations would be a violation of House ethics. So they did what they needed to do and he failed to respond. Second, even if they didn't advise him of such, Rangel had a responsibility of his own to learn where the money was coming from. Did he do anything at all to identify the source of the funding? No, he didn't. So it's his own fault that his actions violated House rules.

Finally, and my big issue, is that Pelosi seems shocked that Rangel can be held accountable. Well, no kidding. Welcome to the real world, where CEO's and company officers are held directly responsible for the actions of their staff members. If my bookkeeper knows that we have not made a required tax payment but fails to share that information with me as the Corporate Controller, our company is still liable for fees and penalties for non-payment. And if my salesman misrepresents our services, my company can be held liable for damages.

Yes, Madame Speaker, it's called accountability and responsibility. If you are in charge of a team, you are the one called on the carpet when any team member fails to perform as required. It's what being a leader means. And Pelosi's inability to understand that explains much about her own failures.