Stark to take over for Rangel on Ways and Means; Incoming chairman has a long history of outbursts

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Democratic California Rep. Pete Stark, whose own political career has hardly been devoid of scandal, will take over the gavel on the House Ways and Means Committee from Rep. Charles Rangel following the New Yorker’s temporary departure over ethics complaints.

Nevada Rep. Shelley Berkley confirmed Stark’s appointment as she left a meeting of Democratic leaders, Business Week reported.

Stark is next in line among the Democrats in terms of seniority on the committee. Stark in January was cleared after the ethics committee looked into whether he had improperly applied for a homestead tax exemption in Maryland, despite living in California.

Stark spokesman Brian Cook did not immediately return a request for comment.

As noted in a Washington Post article in 2007 after apologizing for saying that Republicans were sending the America’s youth to Iraq “to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement,” the California congressman has a long line of missteps:

2003: As Stark belittled House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, California Republican, then-Rep. Scott McInnis, Colorado Republican, told him to “shut up.”

“You think you are big enough to make me, you little wimp?” Stark taunted. “Come on. Come over here and make me, I dare you. You little fruitcake.”

2001: At a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on abstinence promotion, Stark referred to then-Rep. J.C. Watts, Oklahoma Republican, as the “current Republican conference chairman, whose children were all born out of wedlock.”

1995: In a private meeting, Stark called then-Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican, a “whore for the insurance industries.”

1991: Stark singled out “Jewish colleagues” for blame for the Persian Gulf War, referring to then-Rep. Stephen Solarz, New York Democrat, as “Field Marshal Solarz in the pro-Israel forces.”

1990: Stark called then-Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, who is African-American, “as close to being a disgrace to his race as anyone I’ve ever seen.”