Friday, September 19, 2008

Mountain of Malfeasance Grows, Bloomberg Praises Rangel; UPDATE: New Scandal Emerges

photo via the NY PostEven as Republicans were rebuffed in Congress yesterday from taking action against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) for his tax evasion and ongoing ethical flaps, that now include long term storage of a classic Mercedes in the House parking lot in violation of Congressional rules, to say nothing of the failure to report the imputed income from that long term storage, Mayor Mike Bloomberg was quick to praise Rangel.

It was a mutual love fest:
The mayor said he didn't know anything about "the brouhaha" but noted that Mr. Rangel is "very well-respected on both sides of the aisle" in Congress. "He is genuine," he said. "What you see is what you get with Charlie."

Mr. Bloomberg also praised Mr. Rangel at the outset of his testimony, without mentioning the investigations that have swirled in recent weeks. "I am mayor because of Charlie Rangel," Mr. Bloomberg said, recalling how the congressman had urged him to run for the office, but as a Democrat instead of as a Republican.

Mr. Rangel had kind words for the mayor as well, hailing him as "absolutely larger than life in our city."
Right, let's just ignore the growing pile of evidence showing that Rangel is nothing more than a tax cheat and whose ethical and moral compass is stuck on self-interest.

To top matters off, Capitol Police towed Rangel's car off to the pound. There's now a feeding frenzy among members of Congress to vie for that parking spot. Apparently there's more interest in that parking spot than there is in making sure that an unethical member of Congress (am I repeating myself?) who has engaged in rampant tax evasion gets his just desserts.

I had missed this when it first came out on September 15, but it throws the hearings in Congress yesterday about how construction of Yankee Stadium received taxpayer funding into sharp relief. Congress held hearings yesterday where opponents of Yankee Stadium's public funding questioned how and why the team and city got tax breaks that totaled $66 million.

Maybe someone ought to look at the cozy relationship between none other than Rep. Charles Rangel and the law firm representing the Yankees, Akin Gump.
The city and the Yankees secretly crafted a letter Rep. Charles Rangel used to lobby the IRS for tax changes that would save the team $66 million, the Daily News has learned.

They did this at the same time Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and the team's law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, raised almost $25,000 for Rangel, records show.

The law firm's political action committee also donated an additional $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in this election cycle. Rangel is chairman of the DCCC's board of directors and a key fund-raiser for House Democrats.
So, while the Democrats holding the hearing were busy flapping their gums, they haven't bothered to look at who brokered the deal in the first place, and who stood to benefit most from the deal who sits alongside them in Congress - Charlie Rangel.

I am not a fan of taxpayer financed stadiums, let alone the Yankee Stadium or Citifield (where the Mets will play next year). These deals saddle taxpayers with the burden of building stadiums or the attendant transportation upgrades when the owners of these teams could build them without the tax breaks - but wont because they know that the City will pay for them anyway. After all, why pay for something when you can get someone else to pay for it (which means us - the taxpayers).

Rangel hits a new low, and if Nancy Pelosi doesn't yank his Chairmanship after this, the GOP better hit the Democrats with both barrels and then some until the Democrats do. His actions border on the criminal before - clearly illegal and unethical, but this is just depraved.
In a CBS 2 HD exclusive interview, Rep. Rangel called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled."

The question was simple: Why are the Democrats so afraid of Palin and her popularity?

The answer was astonishing.

"You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel said.

That's right. The chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee called Palin disabled -- even when CBS 2 HD called him on it.

CBS 2 HD: "You got to be kind to the disabled?"

Rangel: "Yes."

CBS 2 HD: "She's disabled?"

Rangel: "There's no question about it politically. It's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live.
Rangel has gone over the top with this comment, and it's beyond repulsive.

And yet, I'm not going to wait to hear from the disabled rights groups since I doubt that they'll take on Democrats on a topic such as this.

Jammie and Hot Air both weigh in with more.

Others keeping tabs on the Rangel mess: Sister Toldjah (who also catalogs the venomous hatred pervasive on the left, though my quibble would be that these people aren't liberals, at least in the classical sense; they're leftists), Gateway Pundit, and Redstate.

Also, apparently Rangel has cut a bunch of checks to try and buy more time.
He ended up writing a number of checks to cover taxes due on his 2004, 2005, and 2006 returns, related to the unreported rental income, said his chief of staff, George Dalley.

The federal government tab ended up being $4,803, according to Rangel’s accountants, while he wrote checks totaling $6,022 to New York State. The state figure includes a small percentage owed to the New York City authorities.

Penalties and interest were not included in those payments, Dalley said.

“If the IRS chooses to impose them, of course he’ll readily pay them,” said Dalley.

As he paid the taxman, Rangel also tried to assure constituents he did nothing to shame his office.

“I’ve never violated the public trust, so I’m not worried,” Rangel wrote in a letter, e-mailed by his campaign.
Nonsense. His full tally still isn't known, and I can't believe that the forensic accountant he hired was able to figure everything out within hours given how many oversights are involved and the discrepancies among all the returns and information. Rangel evaded paying taxes for years, and yet thinks this doesn't violate the public trust? He also says that these are just honest mistakes, but I'm not buying that either. Take for example the long term usage of the Congressional parking lot and the rules on imputed income were clearly stated for all members to compute them for purposes of filing their returns.

He didn't.

Rangel couldn't be more wrong, but his constituents might still let him slide.

As for the actual amount he repaid, that's still about the same $10,000 he copped to last week when this scandal first broke. There's a whole lot more due, and we've still seen only the tip of this iceberg.

He's probably hoping that the press will focus on the checks and think that this scandal is over, and that if people continue focusing on it, that they're just trying to make an issue where none exists. The problem is exactly as I noted - there's going to be a far larger tax bill due, and he repeatedly failed to report income on a consistent basis.

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