The influential chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee faces allegations of ethics violations as Washington vigorously debates how to best pass health care reform. This may sound like the current situation involving Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), but we found a remarkably similar situation from our 'This Week' archives.
Sixteen years ago, while Congress was debating the Clinton health care plan, one of the most powerful members of congress, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), was facing charges of corruption for misusing taxpayer funds. As the scandal unfolded, 'This Week' examined the issue and asked how Rostenkowski's troubles would impact the intense battle to reform health care. Our guest On Sunday, May 29, 1994? None other than Congressman Charlie Rangel. He was the third ranking Democratic member of the committee at the time. He spoke with our Sam Donaldson, George Will and Cokie Roberts. Take a look at 'This Week With David Brinkley' from 1994.
Rostenkowski subsequently stepped down as the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and lost his bid for reelection in 1994. Two years later, Rostenkowski pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and was sentenced to seventeen months in prison and fined $100,000. In 2000, President Clinton unexpectedly pardoned Rostenkowski based on the overall good he had done for the country. In his book My Life, Clinton justified the pardon by saying, "Rostenkowski had done a lot for his country and had more than paid for his mistakes."