Trouble on Capitol Hill


Two members of Congress with something to say about matters of interest to broadcasters are embroiled in ethics scraps. The case of former Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Stevens (R-AK) has progressed from indictment to trial, pending within about a week and a half. Efforts by his attorneys to have the case dismissed have failed. Stevens abandoned his top slot at Commerce to Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) in keeping with Republican caucus rules. But there doesn’t figure to be much broadcast action other than DTV oversight before the 111th Congress is seated early next year. Stevens figures to get his seat back if he is acquitted. In the House, Charles Rangel (D-NY) is dealing with multiple ethics charges, involving taxes, real estate dealings and questionable charity fund-raising. He is Chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, a position that Republicans are asking him to relinquish. So far he has refused. It remains to see if these distractions will impact his workload. Ways and Means does not typically get involved in broadcast matters, but the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters has been asking Rangel to hold a hearing on restoration of the minority tax certificate in order to increase the number of socially-disadvantaged businesses holding broadcast licenses.