Friday, December 05, 2008

Cash in the Family

Rep. Charles Rangel continues to show that he is tone deaf to swirling charges of ethical impropriety and legal troubles.

The latest problem for the Harlem Democrat? He steered a lucrative contract for designing and maintaining a poorly designed website to his son's company that should have cost a fraction of that amount.
Between 2004 and 2007, Rep. Charles Rangel steered nearly $80,000 in campaign cash to an Internet company run by his son – paying lavishly for a pair of political Web sites so poorly designed an expert estimated one should have cost no more than $100 to create.

The payments are apparently legal under federal law, but their disclosure raises new questions about the Ways and Means chairman as he faces House ethics committee probes into his failure to pay taxes on rental income and his alleged use of House stationery to solicit contributions for a public policy center that bears his name.

Rangel’s leadership PAC and congressional committee shelled out $79,560 to Edisonian Innovative Works LLC for “websites,” according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Edisonian Innovative Works, which lists several clients on its homepage – none of them politicians — was founded by Rangel’s son, Steven Charles Rangel, 40, of Greenbelt, Md.
Expect Rangel to complain that he's being smeared by the media and that the website served its purpose and was worth the money. Rangel has already attempted to push back at the New York Times report about his involvement with lobbyists for a retroactive tax break.

What's curious is that Steven Rangel went from that job to another highly lucrative position with another House Committee:
Rep. Rangel's spokesman, Emile Milne, said Steven was a valuable member of the re-election team and was paid a modest monthly retainer to build, maintain, update and publicize the sites.

Payments to Steven began in mid-2004 and stopped in early 2007 when he was hired by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as an $80,000-a-year "investigative counsel," according to records.
Given the way that ethics and Rangel can't be said in the same sentence without laughing, one ought to be asking questions about whether Steven Rangel received any preferential treatment for that House Committee position based on who his father was.

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