AUGUST 26, 2009
The New York congressman under investigation for tax evasion, using his office to raise money from corporations with business before him and illegally accepting multiple rent control apartments has for years concealed his true wealth.
It simply marks the latest of numerous corruption scandals in the lengthy political career of Democrat Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. It turns out that the veteran lawmaker, who has represented Harlem in the U.S. House for three decades, is at least twice as wealthy as he originally reported on congressional disclosure forms.
Since the House Ethics Committee finally decided to investigate Rangel’s many violations last fall, the congressman corrected the huge asset omission fearing it would be discovered in the course of the probe. Now his amended disclosure statement for 2007 reports new assets worth between $647,000 and $1.38 million, substantially raising the value of his holdings.
Lying is par for the course for Rangel, who has committed a series of legal and ethical lapses in his storied career. Among them are violating New York state and city regulations by accepting several rent stabilized apartments from a Manhattan developer, using congressional stationery to solicit money for a center named after him and failing to pay taxes for two decades on rental income from a Caribbean villa. Ironically, the House committee he chairs writes the federal tax code.
A few years ago Rangel got in trouble for proposing tax legislation that would greatly benefit his campaign contributors and for lying about secretly accepting an all-expense paid family trip from a terrorist government. He slipped the tax provision into a broad tax relief bill in order to halt current audits of Americans who get breaks for operating businesses in the Virgin Islands.
In 2006 he was caught lying about a 2002 family trip financed by a government that for years has appeared on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist-sponsoring nations, a violation of House ethics rules. Rangel actually lied on his congressional travel disclosure forms to conceal that the Cuban government had paid for him and his family to visit the island to meet with Dictator Fidel Castro to discuss lifting U.S. trade restrictions on Havana.
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