An updated article posted at today’s New York Post website reported last night that Charlie Rangel was likely to give up his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee. This morning MSNBC.com posted an Associated Press story as breaking news stating that Congressman Rangel will temporarily step down from his chairmanship until the ethics committee finishes its work. He is taking a leave of absence.
I understand that generally speaking American justice assumes innocence until proven guilty, but this is ridiculous.
According to the MSNBC article:
“Republicans had been calling for Rangel to step aside since last year, when the House ethics panel expanded its investigation into his trips, assets and income, use of rent-controlled apartments in New York and his solicitation of contributions for university center to be named after him. After the panel released its findings last Friday on the Caribbean trips, Rangel started losing support among rank-and-file Democrats as well who said he should step aside as chairman, at least temporarily.”
When confronted with his tax violations, Mr. Rangel blamed it on language difficulties with the country where his rental property was located. When confronted with violations of House gift-ban rules by taking trips paid for by lobbyists, he blamed communications problems with his staff. Regardless of the legality of what he has done, does this man ever accomplish anything effectively?
The New York Post story points out:
“The Ethics Committee is pursuing a broader investigation that includes Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic, and his not listing more than $500,000 in assets on financial-disclosure forms, as first reported by the Post.
The panel also is probing an alleged sweetheart deal in which he leased four rent-stabilized Lenox Terrace apartments in Harlem and used his congressional office to raise money for the City University of New York center that bears his name.”
The Democrat party took over Congress by promising to be the most ethical Congress in history. Mr. Rangel’s problems are not helping them in their bid to stay in power.
One of the ironies of this situation is the circumstances under which Charlie Rangel was elected to Congress. The representative in his New York City district, Adam Clayton Powell, was under fire for major ethics violations–there was even some question as to whether Mr. Powell lived in New York City. Charlie Rangel challenged him in a primary in 1970 and won. Charlie Rangel began his House of Representatives career in 1971. This year there are already a number of Democrats planning to challenge Mr. Rangel in a Democrat primary for his House seat. One of those who have formed an exploratory committee is Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of the man that Charlie Rangel defeated in the 1970 primary. A further example of ‘what goes around comes around.’