Charlie Rangel Should Step Down

Rep. Charles Rangel said Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has promised him he will keep his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee as long as he wants – even though investigators haven’t completed their report on ethical allegations facing the Harlem Democrat.


“She told me I am her chairman of the Ways and Means Committee as long as I want to be,” Rangel boasted to reporters at a ribbon-cutting for a new East Harlem School.


The Democratic chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has been at the center of a seemingly endless swirl of questions about his activities.


He came under fire recently after The New York Times reported that Rangel worked  to protect a tax shelter for Nabors Industries, an oil company whose chief executive was pledging $1 million to a school bearing the congressman’s name.


The executive, Eugene M. Isenberg, also personally pledged $200,000 to the City College of New York, where the public policy school is named for Rangel.  Last year, the company won congressional approval to preserve its tax shelter in the Caribbean, saving Nabors tens of millions of dollars annually and depriving the federal treasury of $1.1 billion in revenues over a decade, according to a Congressional analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.


Various other aspects of Rangel’s questionable ethical activities — which have also featured maintenance of multiple rent-controlled apartments, including one (illegally) as a workspace, enjoyment of tax benefits by claiming two difference cities as primary residences, and using his Congressional letterhead to raise money for a private foundation — is theoretically being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.


One activity that I find troubling is Charlie Rangel claiming that he did not know that a Caribbean resort villa he purchased 20 years ago was financed with a no-interest mortgage from the developer and has generated $75,000 in income that he should have reported on tax and financial disclosure forms.   Is one supposed to believe that the leader of the tax-writing committee had not paid the U.S. taxes on income from his own luxury vacation home because he was ignorant of the tax laws…the New York Democrat writes the damned tax laws!


Charlie Rangel shows contempt for the country, the American people, the House of Representatives as exhibited by both his unethical activities and his cavalier attitude about it.  He is most certainly not a patriot.  One would hope that he would be challenged and defeated for his seat in Congress in 2010, but it is clear that the drones that have elected him since 1970 will overlook his shortcomings.  At the very least, he should step down as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee or be forced to step down.  


That is not likely to happen.  One shouldn’t be surprised, in spite of Socialist Democrat Nancy Pelosi’s promise to clean up Washington’s “culture of corruption,” that she will smile and look the other way when it is a liberal Democrat involved in the investigation.


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