Monday, December 06, 2010

Rangel In Hot Water Over New Ethics Woes

Just days after being censured by the House of Representatives for multiple ethics violations, Rep. Charles Rangel is facing new ethics woes.

This time he's being investigated over his use of a group PAC to fund his legal defense against the original ethics charges.
The FEC is investigating a complaint that Rangel misused his political action committee to fund his legal defense over House ethics rules, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, the complaint charges that Rangel used nearly $400,000 raised by his National Leadership PAC to pay his legal bills. Rangel told the House Ethics Committee last month that he could no longer afford counsel in the panel’s proceedings after spending more than $2 million on legal fees.
While a member can use money he raises personally for his campaign to pay legal fees, a member cannot use the sort of PAC money he used in his legal defense fund to do so.

That's a big no-no, and he no one but himself to blame for this latest ethics problem.

Moreover, Rangel continues to peddle the nonsense that he did nothing to enrich himself. He most certainly did. He also blames this on political pressure, but the fact that more than half the Democrats in the chamber voted in support of censure shows that the situation was bipartisan. In fact, it would tend to support the fact that his ethical and legal woes were like

By failing to pay the proper tax on his real estate investments, he profited from the failure to pay those taxes. By unlawfully using a rent stabilized apartment as his office, he was able to profit from the below-market rental. That's unjust enrichment and that most certainly meant more money in his pocket.

A legislator cannot say that what he did is no worse than what other members do (or did). Rangel was caught lying about his taxes and other legal and ethical missteps. He has no one to blame but himself, and his ongoing refusal to accept the punishment shows that he still thinks himself above the law. The sad thing is that his constituents don't think any differently. They had no problem reelecting him twice despite the tax avoidance and multiple ethics issues. In fact, his supporters had no problem cheering him on his return to Harlem.

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