Monday, July 26, 2010

Democrats Distancing Themselves From Rangel Hoping to Limit Political Fallout

As I've been noting for some time now, Rep. Charles Rangel is in a pretty secure seat -- he's a 20-term Congressman from Harlem who has won reelection time and time again without even the slightest bit of concern for his reelection chances.

It's quite likely he'd win reelection again in 2010, though he's finally getting an opponent who has the kind of name recognition to send Rangel packing - Adam Clayton Powell IV (the son of the man that Rangel beat to win his House seat 40 years ago). Rangel won in 2008 with the tax evasion and rent stabilization mess breaking before the election and that didn't stop his constituents from reelecting him handily.

His fellow Democrats aren't so blessed with constituents willing to overlook his corruption, ethics flaps, tax evasion and avoidance, and other legal issues (like gaining benefits from rent stabilization despite not being in compliance with state law). They are thinking they're going to be hammered in November in part because Rangel is still in office because Democrats aren't going to take the steps needed to purge Congress of corrupt officials.

Rangel is still putting up a defiant front, but even fellow New York Democrats are starting to distance themselves from the radioactive Rangel. That includes Senator Chuck Schumer, who just a month ago gave $10,000 to Rangel's reelection campaign effort. Schumer's probably wishing that he could get the money back now that the ethics flap has come to a head - even though anyone and everyone knew that Rangel was going to be toxic for their political futures with all the issues facing him.

Other Democrats have given back $500,000 in money donated by Rangel to avoid the stench of corruption and the appearance of impropriety.
"Democrats will start heading for the hills — distancing themselves from Charlie once those charges are out — so if he wants to keep a modicum of support, he better reach a deal with the House over the next few days," a senior state Democrat told the New York Post.

A House panel has scheduled a reading of ethics charges against Rep. Rangel on Thursday.

Rangel is accused of accepting four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City and creating an alleged tax loophole for an oil executive who contributed to a City College program under the his name. Rangel also failed to pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

"He did some things that look like they ought to get him thrown out of Congress, and if it turns out that he did them, he's going to get thrown out of Congress," former DNC Chairman Howard Dean said on "Fox News Sunday."

The longtime Harlem Congressman said over the weekend that he could beat a public trial, opposing the advice that Democratic leaders have given him to cut a deal and avoid the possibility of Republicans using his case to take back the majority in the House in November.

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