Friday, July 30, 2010

Where Do Rangel's Constituents Sit On His Massive Ethics Mess?

Do Charles Rangel's constituents think that Rangel should be booted from office over his 13-count ethics indictment in the House? While some reports seem to think that this doesn't sit well with his constituents, reporters were busy asking his constituents this morning and not all of them were calling for Rangel to step down.

Indeed, some were saying that this was a witch hunt to go after Rangel after 40 years of service and that this was politics. They cited his work for the district and all the good things he's done.

The myopia is astounding, but not unexpected. After all, when people are polled about Congress, they generally give Congress generically awful marks, but rank their own member quite well. Rangel is no exception to that rule. In fact, I've remarked on numerous occasions during this entire affair that while it will hurt Rangel's fellow Democrats, Rangel may well be reelected without much of a problem.

Rangel was reelected handily in 2008 despite the news of his tax evasion, rent stabilization mess, and other legal and ethics woes coming to light during the summer of 2008. If his constituents didn't boot him then, what makes anyone think that they're going to do so now?

It may well take a perp-walk to send Rangel packing if Congress doesn't first expel him and Congressional Democrats are loath to do so. They've been dragging their feet for nearly two years in resisting calls for investigations and for Rangel to step down as chair of Ways and Means. Yet, the weight of evidence against Rangel is such that it can no longer be avoided and the timing couldn't be better.

Everyone should get what they deserve over coddling corruption, graft, and unethical behavior.

Here's a full breakdown of the House ethics panel's findings.

Despite the finding that Rangel evaded his tax obligations for more than a decade (from 1998 until the present), Democrats on the panel think that his actions deserve a slap on the wrist: they are recommending a reprimand. Reprimand is the lowest of three possible outcomes - explusion would have been the worst, and a censure would have been an intermediate step.

That the panel's Democrats can't see that this case warrants the most serious punishment is outrageous. After all, if anyone systematically avoided their tax obligations for a decade, they would be looking at jail time. Combine the tax woes with the multitude of other ethical and legal woes, and expulsion should have been the only possible outcome.

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