Friday, July 23, 2010

Sorting Through Rangel's Ethics Charges

photo via the NY PostThe House Ethics Panel found that the ethics charges against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) were sufficient to send the matter before the entire House, which will conduct a trial on Rangel's violations of House ethics rules.

The matter has been sitting before the panel for nearly a year, and it's nice to see that they finally realized that the situation was serious enough to require further action. Moreover, the House Democratic party leadership saw that this was a mess that had to be addressed with enough time before the November election before the mess swamped the leadership's chances to retain control of the House.

Rangel, for his part, continues to deny that he violated the rules. That's all so much nonsense on his part since the number and kinds of violations are so numerous and overwhelming that the House leadership simply could no longer avoid the seriousness of the matter. They even tried to work out a deal with Rangel, but Rangel refused to deal - he didn't want to admit his guilt on the ethics flaps.

So, what is the House focusing on? This:
But sources said they're related to Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for a City College center named for him; his use of four rent-regulated apartments; and his failure to report income.

"It's very bad news for Mr. Rangel," said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington, which called for him to step down yesterday.

"This means they found some very bad stuff. To me, this is a step toward expulsion."

Rangel was briefed in recent weeks on the allegations and rejected them, The Washington Post reported, citing sources who said he could have avoided the trial by accepting the findings.

Among the most serious charges that have been aired against Rangel -- first disclosed by The Post -- was his failure to report and pay taxes on rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic.
In all there were more than a dozen separate incidents that the House ethics panel could have focused on that were serious enough to require further action.

And Rangel continues to act with an air of entitlement that he did nothing wrong.

That's even after Rangel was forced to step down as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this year. You would have thought that was a wakeup call for Rangel to put the matter to bed, but he still thinks that he's entitled to his seat.

His constituents didn't have a problem with reelecting Rangel in 2008, even as the situation worsened - the findings of his tax evasion/nonpayment and multiple violations of New York rent stabilization rules led investigators to find still more problems. I wonder if they'd think twice before reelecting him again this November.

Yet, if he does - it would be a most ironic turn of events as his opponent is none other than Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of the man that Rangel defeated 40 years ago. Powell was himself accused of corruption and the House took steps to prevent Powell from being seated (with a case that went all the way to the US Supreme Court - Powell v. McCormack, 395 U.S. 486, 89 S. Ct. 1944, 23 L. Ed. 2d 491 (1969), which found that the House could not expel him because he met all of the Constitutional requirements to be seated.)

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