If you are a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the chances that you will eventually face an ethics probe are better than the odds of you becoming president, senator or a Nobel Prize winner.
The question is why.
According to a 2012 National Journal study, five of the six lawmakers under review by the House Ethics Committee were Black Caucus members. Yet just one in 10 House members belong to the group.
In 2009, all eight lawmakers under ethics investigation were African-American. Besides Jackson, they included Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who was later convicted of accepting gifts from donors with business before his tax-writing panel and 11 other ethics violations.
All told, the Journal says, an astonishing one-third of sitting black lawmakers have been named in an ethics probe at some point in their Hill careers.
Some of this level of criminality can be explained by putting the Congressional Black Caucus members in context within the Democratic Party and the urban political machine. But that doesn’t quite cover it either.
What is notable about the Congressional Black Caucus members is how sloppy and unqualified they often seem to be. We often poke fun at Sheila Jackson Lee, but she’s not exactly an exception. There’s a basic gap between them and many high ranking African-American Democrats.
The corruption of the CBC isn’t an accident. If you look back at the careers of Jackson-Lee or Hastings, it becomes clear that their willingness to put their ethics and votes up for sale was a crucial factor in their political history.