Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pressure Mounts on Rangel; Pelosi Does Nothing

photo via the NY PostOnce again, we learn that Speaker Pelosi has done nothing to stamp out the corrupt and scandalous Democrats from Congress. She looks the other way, hoping that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) steps down from Ways and Means on his own.

That's simply not going to happen. Rangel is too entrenched and too self interested in keeping the power he's accumulated over 38 years to step down now, despite the calls from the New York Post and New York Times.

Pelosi simply cannot get into a fight with Rangel over this for fear of splintering her fragile caucus - the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and New York delegations would take umbrage with his removal now, especially in light of the close elections predicted in November. She's in a bind, and it has handed a plum issue to the GOP on a silver platter.

I've previously categorized Rangel's legal and ethical woes. The NY Post adds additional details, including just how much Rangel's tax returns and finances have varied from year to year - and from form to form within some years:
The development came as new details emerged about Rangel's tax shenanigans, based on his financial-disclosure forms:

* The congressman's Sunny Isles, Fla., condo was purchased in 2004 for $335,000 and listed as a rental, although he didn't report income on it. He then sold it in 2007 for a $60,000 profit, but didn't list the sale, as is required.

* He never disclosed, as mandated, the sale of his Washington, DC, home in 2000. Property records list the price as $500,000.

* He only sporadically listed rental income for a West 132nd Street home. Then, when he unloaded it in 2004, he didn't report the sale. The home's value was listed as less than $100,000 in 2002; in 2004, Rangel said it was worth $250,000 to $500,000.

* The value of his personal portfolio fluctuated wildly without explanation. The investments he reported grew from $50,001 in 2000 to somewhere between $177,000 and $530,000 in 2001. In 2002, he reported new holdings worth $115,000 to $315,000.
There's actually good explanations for why the portfolio fluctuated wildly. Occam's Razor would suggest he was not reporting all relevant income. That means that his tax avoidance issue is far larger than his legal flack has claimed.

As I've repeatedly noted, Rangel is showing himself to have engaged in ongoing and repeated instances of tax avoidance that appears to be more than simple negligence. It would appear to be willful, and should be investigated fully by all the relevant taxing authorities including the IRS and NYS Department of Taxation and Finance. Taxpayers deserve as much.

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