And then there were two

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO…. Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) ethics charges are obviously generating a lot of attention, but the issue will likely become even bigger if there are two long-time House members facing allegations at the same time.

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, will face charges of misusing her office and is expected to contest the claims in a House trial, the second powerful House Democrat to opt for such a public airing in recent days, Congressional officials said Friday.

A House ethics subcommittee has charged Ms. Waters, 71, a 10-term congresswoman, in a case involving communications that she had with the top executive of a bank that her husband owned stock in while it was applying for a federal bailout in 2008, two House officials said.

Charges are expected to be announced next week, several Congressional officials said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the proceedings remained confidential.

In the meantime, there are now eight House Democrats calling on Rangel to resign. They were bolstered, at least indirectly, when President Obama told CBS’s Harry Smith yesterday, “I think Charlie Rangel served a very long time and served — his constituents very well but these — allegations are very troubling…. He’s somebody who’s at the end of his career. Eighty years old. I’m sure that what he wants is to be able to end his career with dignity. And my hope is that it happens.”

By all accounts, the president’s comments didn’t change matters for Rangel, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus were reportedly annoyed by Obama’s criticism — not because Rangel is innocent of the ethics allegations, but because Rangel “served our nation with honor and distinction for more than four decades, before … the president was a twinkle in his parents’ eye.”

As for the charges themselves, a investigative subcommittee of the House ethics panel that oversaw the two-year probe into Rangel’s alleged wrongdoing recommended that the New York Dem “be punished with a reprimand, rather than a more serious censure or expulsion from office,” a recommendation that may carry “significant weight with the full 10-member House ethics committee.”

While the Rangel and Waters allegations will no doubt be welcome news to Republicans, who’d love to exploit the ethics controversies for electoral gain, the GOP should probably be reminded of the dangers of throwing stones in glass houses.

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