02.28.2010 0

Democrats Must Lose Rangel, or Lose

  • On: 03/04/2010 10:08:14
  • In: Corruption
  • By William Warren

    He may be taking a “temporary leave of absence” from chairing the House Ways and Means Committee, but Charlie Rangel took a “leave of absence” from ethics a long, long time ago. It’s a shame that people — and by “people”, I mean his fellow Congressional Democrats — are only taking action now against the biggest cheater in Washington.

    In the wake of a formal “admonishment” last week from the House ethics committee regarding his improper usage of donations to fund two Caribbean vacations, Charlie Rangel is finally stepping down and hitting the penalty box. The pressure to take him out of the game has simply gotten too intense — and it’s coming not just from those on the right.

    It makes sense that Rangel’s colleagues would take action now, of all times. For the horde of vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this fall, removing Rangel might help to “un-gruntle” their disgruntled voters back home. And for the rest of the Democrats, purging the unethical filth from their ranks might help boost their historically filthy poll numbers.

    After all, Nancy Pelosi promised to run the most ethical Congress in history, remember? At least ousting Rangel would be one small step towards honoring this horribly unfulfilled campaign promise. As one particular aide of an embattled Democrat remarked, “If Democrats want to be taken seriously on accountability and transparency, he has to step down.”

    However, can voters really expect Charlie Rangel to take his lumps, step down, and simply go away? The Harlem Congressman has become as iconic in Washington, D.C. as is traffic on the Beltway — and equally as frustrating, for that matter. He’s been successfully avoiding his judgment day for a long time and it’s doubtful he’ll acquiesce now.

    Perhaps he’ll lay low for a while and wait until the media and the press have moved on (intentionally or otherwise) to other issues… like the fall elections. Perhaps Rangel will come crawling out from under his rock then and quietly reassume his chairmanship under the chaotic din in November? All he will need is a simple approval from the House and he’ll be swept back to his post.

    That being said, Truth be told — and it has been told, numerous times by numerous sources — Rangel’s recent ethical “admonishment” is merely the tip of the iceberg.

    He may have been formally caught for misusing private corporation donations to fund his Caribbean flings, but what about his failure to pay taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic? Or his improper fundraising methods for his namesake education center at City College of New York? Or his failure to report over $1 million in outside income and $3 million in business transactions? Or his breaking of state laws by claiming three primary residences and maintaining four rent-controlled apartments?

    The list goes on and on (and can be read in its entirety at ALG’s online petition, RangelOutNow.org).

    These pending inquiries and outstanding allegations are serious. So Democrats, take a hint: You better dump Rangel before the rest of Rangel’s garbage is dumped on you.

    The proper game plan may be a tough one for the Democrats to implement. Simply put, Charlie Rangel needs to be permanently removed from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee. To consider a “temporary leave of absence” a fitting punishment would require Congressional Democrats to take leave of their senses.

    On top of that, it’s high time the Attorney General stepped in and opened an investigation on Mr. Rangel.

    Congressmen and all elected officials ought to be held to a higher ethical standard and, consequently, taken to task when they fail to measure up. The fact that Rangel has been allowed to carry on these crimes in perpetuity is an embarrassment not just to Democrats, but the American representative system of government as a whole.

    If necessary, Mr. Rangel must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for any and all illegal conduct. Jettisoning him from his Congressional seat—and not just his committee seat—must be considered. The House even has the Constitutional authority to expel its own members by a two-thirds vote.

    So what’s it going to take, Congressional Democrats? The ball is in your court when it comes to Charlie Rangel. The longer he stays in the game, the more likely the GOP is going to score — and score big time.

    Lose Rangel or lose. It’s your call.

    William Warren is the Creative Director of ALG News Bureau.

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