SEPTEMBER 03, 2009
Desperately seeking exoneration, the notoriously corrupt New York congressman under investigation for tax evasion and a slew of other offenses has given hefty campaign contributions to members of the House Ethics Committee charged with investigating him.
A major news agency reports that Democrat Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is making back-door deals and using his renowned political power peddling to wrangle his way out of probes involving his mounting legal problems.
Since his ethics probes began last fall, Rangel, who has represented Harlem in the U.S. House for three decades, has covertly given campaign donations to 119 members of congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are supposedly investigating him. They include Kentucky’s Ben Chandler, North Carolina’s G.K. Butterfield and Vermont’s Peter Welch.
Rangel is under investigation for tax evasion, using his office to raise money from corporations with business before him and illegally accepting multiple rent control apartments. Fearing the probe would reveal his hidden assets, the veteran lawmaker disclosed last week that he is at least twice as wealthy as reported in congressional disclosure forms.
It turns out that for years Rangel has concealed assets worth between $647,000 and $1.38 million, marking the latest of many scandals in his lengthy political 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.
Many, including several mainstream newspapers, have called on Rangel to resign as committee chair. Others have insisted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi step up to the plate and yank him from the coveted position, but she refuses to remove her good friend or censure him publicly unless the House Ethics Committee—that he’s been paying off—finds him guilty of misconduct.
In its second editorial demanding Rangel’s resignation, Washington D.C.’s largest newspaper calls the lawmaker’s financial omissions a trove of outrage. “Much is expected of elected officials,” the latest piece says. “Much more is expected and demanded of those entrusted with chairmanships and the power that comes with them, especially when it involves the nation’s purse strings. From all that we’ve seen thus far, Mr. Rangel has violated that trust continually and seemingly without care.” Take note Madam Speaker.
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