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Stark, favorite of tax exempt groups, replaces Rangel as Ways and Means chair

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By The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group

The Hill reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped California Democrat Rep. Pete Stark to fill in for Charles Rangel, who’s taken a leave of absence from the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee after being admonished by the Select Committee on Ethics. Unlike Rangel, who was a favorite of banks, brokerages and insurers, Stark’s most generous supporters are tax exempt organizations.

In stepping aside, Rangel cited the ongoing ethics investigation, which is delving into his personal financial disclosures, income taxes,  and use of official letterhead to solicit donations from individuals and companies with tax business before Ways and Means for an eponymous nonprofit center celebrating the chairman’s career.

Stark, who was cleared by the ethics committee over a tax question of his own, has raised a total of $5.4 million since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By contrast, Rangel, a top fundraiser for House Democrats, brought in $19.4 million over the same period just for his campaign committee. He raised millions more through his leadership PAC

Stark’s top career donors are a motley group dominated by Washington trade associations and unions–all organized under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, making most of their operations tax exempt, though of course, the organizations represent taxpayers.

Health care interests are well represented: the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Physical Therapy Association, the American Health Care Association, and the American Nurses Association rank among his ten most generous sources of campaign cash; he draws more support from health professionals than from any other industry–Stark is the chair of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

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The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group is part of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based organization that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable.


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