Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hope and Change: Rangel Ethics Investigation Panel Virtually Disbanded

photo via the NY PostHouse Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi once proclaimed that under her tenure we'd have the most ethical Congress ever. Apparently the Democrats definition of ethics and mine differ sharply.

Under Pelosi, she condones criminal conduct, including tax evasion by Chairman Charles Rangel. The ethics panel that was supposed to investigate Rangel has barely met and isn't expect to reach a decision anytime soon. Some of the delay is the result of the change in personnel between the outgoing Congress and the new 111th Congress.
The panel created on Sept. 24 to probe the Harlem Democrat's alleged ethical lapses has been virtually disbanded, after meeting only twice in four months on the matter, The Post has learned.

Of the four congressmen named to look into the powerful Ways and Means Committee chairman, only one remains - Alabama Republican Jo Bonner. The three others left the Rangel probe last month when they were "rotated" off the 10-member Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

The dormant investigation won't be jump-started until three incoming ethics committee members are assigned to the Rangel probe later this month.

Because the committee conducts its work in secret, it is not clear if any progress has been made on the Rangel investigation. In the committee's recently released 100-page report on its work in the 110th Congress, only four paragraphs mention the Rangel probe, listing five alleged ethics breaches and noting that the panel had not been able to complete the investigation.

The panel has already missed Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Jan. 3 deadline for filing a final report on Rangel.

The investigative subcommittee was convened three weeks after a Post exposé reported that the 38-year lawmaker failed to declare rental income on a beachfront villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

Among other alleged breaches referred to Congress: Rangel's use of four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem; his use of congressional stationery to solicit donations for an academic center named in his honor at City College; his storage of a vintage Mercedes at a House parking garage; and a $1 million pledge to the Rangel Center from an oil-drilling company that benefited from Rangel-sponsored tax legislation.

Critics say the shuffling of committee members will delay an already lackluster probe.
Rangel broke the law when he failed to report rental income. He broke the law when using rent stabilized apartments in New York City for office purposes. He broke the law by failing to report capital gains from the sale of real property, and he broke the law by failing to report imputed income from using a House parking spot for long term storage of his car. He repeatedly broke IRS rules and guidelines when it comes to paying tax.

Rangel doesn't have Tim Geithner's TurboTax defense handy. He also lacks any semblance of records to substantiate how and why he filed his returns in the manner that he did.

Did I mention that Rangel is the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, which sets tax policy for the nation? It's reprehensible that Pelosi continues to stand by Rangel despite the mountains of evidence of malfeasance, but that's par for the course.

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