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September 19, 2011

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) Named One of the Most Corrupt Members of Congress

Washington, D.C. – Being related to Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) has its perks. The longtime West Virginia congressman tacitly approved of his sister’s dropping his name to advance her lobbying career.  Meanwhile, when his son found himself facing jail time for a serious felony conviction, Rep. Rahall pleaded for mercy in a letter on official congressional stationery.  Junior received a suspended sentence.  All of this has earned Rep. Rahall a spot in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington’s (CREW) annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress report.  Click here to read the full report on Rep. Rahall.

“Rep. Rahall abused his position to help his son and sister in clear violation of the House ethics rules,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Perhaps it’s his long experience in Congress that led him to believe he could get away with it.”

Rep. Rahall’s sister Tanya is a registered lobbyist who often touts her close ties with her brother as a key factor in her ability to serve her clients.  Rep. Rahall claims he does not allow his sister to lobby him, a claim not supported by lobbying records.  Ms. Rahall once brazenly demanded a 185% raise from her then-employer based on the fact that she was the sister of a sitting chairman.  She was fired, but subsequently started her own lobbying business, and apparently lobbies her brother’s staff.  According to a report in Politico, Tanya Rahall has a mailbox in the congressman’s office.

“Tanya Rahall wouldn’t have this sort of access if she were not a congressman’s sister,” said Ms. Sloan.  “This is exactly the kind of conduct that leads Americans to have such disdain for Congress and lobbyists.”

In 2003, Nick Rahall III was brought up on charges including DUI, cocaine distribution, and felony breaking and entering.  On congressional stationary, Rep. Rahall asked a judge considering the latter charge for leniency. Mr. Rahall received a four year suspended sentence. When the shady affair was exposed by the press in 2010, Rep. Rahall acknowledged using congressional stationery was an error in judgment and promised to repay the Treasury for its cost.

“Nick Rahall’s awfully lucky to have a dad in Congress willing to pull strings for him. I wonder if Rep. Rahall was kind enough to use congressional stationery to write letters of recommendation on behalf of other convicted felons?” said Ms. Sloan. 

This is the 7th edition of the CREW’S Most Corrupt Report, an annual look at a bipartisan collection of Washington’s worst.  This year’s list includes seven Democrats, and 12 Republicans.  Five are repeat offenders.  Since 2005, CREW has named 70 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office. 

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