Friday, October 9, 2009

What Do We Do About Rangel?

Democrats running for Congress in 2006 and 2008 promised an end to the Republican practice of turning a blind eye to corruption within their ranks and protecting their members from the consequences of their ethical violations.  I’m sad to agree that promise has come under a cloud of disbelief, with cause.

rangel It is time for Democrats in Congress — who once justifiably complained about the corruption of the Republican majority — to demonstrate to Americans that someone in that august body has ethical standards.

Instead, House Democrats have again shielded Representative Charles Rangel from his serial ethical messes and ducked their responsibility to force him from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, maintaining her tunnel vision on behalf of a powerful colleague, led the majority to defeat the Republicans’ latest call to depose the New York lawmaker. She does the nation no favor.

Two of her Democrats broke ranks and voted against Mr. Rangel, but far more need to face up to the obvious: the chairman’s gavel weighs increasingly like a millstone as new disclosures surface about Mr. Rangel’s ethical gaffes and official misdeeds.

The most recent was the congressman’s postscripting more than $500,000 to his assets disclosure last summer, essentially doubling his net worth to somewhere between $1 million and $2.4 million. This joined a lengthy docket of bizarre-to-outrageous behavior that was supposed to have been fully investigated by the House by last January, according to Ms. Pelosi’s initial estimate.

Mr. Rangel’s accumulating missteps and Ms. Pelosi’s refusal to force him to step aside only compound the spectacle. Here is the nation’s chief of tax-writing legislation clinging to power even as his flaws as taxpayer and lawmaker grind slowly and mysteriously through the House ethics committee.

The congressman clearly violated House standards in using his official letterhead to solicit donations from scores of business and foundation leaders for a City College of New York center named for him to house “the inspirational aspects of my legacy.” One oil executive pledged $1 million to Mr. Rangel, who insists there was no quid pro quo in his defending an off-shore tax loophole worth tens of millions to the donor.

Mr. Rangel admitted an “irresponsible” slip-up in his failure to pay taxes and disclose $75,000 in income from a Dominican villa on which he enjoyed an interest-free mortgage. Closer to home, the congressman was allotted four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem by a politically savvy landlord — a boon worth an estimated $30,000 a year. The ethics panel is supposed to be studying whether that violates House gift rules... [emphasis added]

Inserted from <New York Times>

There are few people you know who are as highly partisan as I am, and as much as I would like to see Rangel allowed to continue the fine work he has done over the years, the fact remains that the Republicans are right on this one.  I have nothing against Mr. Rangel, and I wish him every success in clearing his name, but it seems so obvious that he’s been caught with his hand on the cookie jar, that he ought to step down from the Chair of Ways and Means until the matter has been resolved.  If I didn’t admit it when we’re wrong, I could not claim integrity.  Neither can Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership.  When they promised an honest Congress, we took them at their word.  How can anyone believe their word, if they act like the Republicans, whom they used to blast for their sorry ethics?  Credibility demands that they keep their word.


Stimpson said...

I agree 100% with you on this matter, TomCat. Rangel should not chair the Ways and Means Committee while his ethics on tax matters is under review. This isn't even debatable, as far as I'm concerned. I have no idea why Pelosi is supporting the guy, other than blind partisanship.

Brother Tim said...


TomCat said...

Stimson, you're right.

Brother, you have summed up the cause.