“POWERFUL” 20-TERM DEMOCRAT CONGRESSMAN CHARGED WITH 13 VIOLATIONS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 29, 2010) — “I never…believed there was one code of morality for a public and another for a private man.” Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Don Valentine de Feronda, 1809
Earlier today, a plan for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) to “cut a deal” to avoid a House trial on ethics violations appeared viable as members of his party issued warnings about the “vigorous” trial process that a trial would incur. As of about 10:30 a.m. EDT, The New York Post reported that a plea deal had been worked out.
However, updated reports have stated that Rangel will face trial on 13 charges amid calls for his resignation from his 40-year career in the U.S. House of Representatives. One Democrat from Arizona has asked him to resign.
The allegations against Rangel and supporting documents can be found here.
Eighteen months ago, when an investigation was first launched into Rangel’s alleged misconduct, he had predicted that the problem “would soon disappear.” The Sunlight Foundation, which describes itself as “a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based organization that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable,” found 28 omissions dating back to 1978 for which Rangel “failed to report acquiring, owning or disposing of assets.”
Last fall, some Republicans had called for Rangel to resign from his chairmanship of the “powerful” House Ways & Means Committee. However, “The Congressional Black Caucus flexed its political muscle by sending a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defending Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) from partisan attacks.” In their letter, they stated, “Charlie Rangel’s work…is critically important, and we are proud of the thoughtful leadership he provides to the House… He has our full support for his work as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means while a bipartisan ethics review is pending.” Rangel had reportedly admitted to some of the charges at that time, and in March of this year, he relinquished his position as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.
Rangel is one of 13 founding members of the Black Congressional Caucus. Rep. Pete Stark, who is not black, attempted to join the organization in 1975, but the group affirmed that it would “remain exclusively black.” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) applied for admission to the group in 2007 on behalf of the 60% of his constituents who were reportedly black, but was provided with the following response from Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO):
Quite simply, Rep. Cohen will have to accept what the rest of the country will have to accept — there has been an unofficial Congressional White Caucus for over 200 years, and now it’s our turn to say who can join ‘”he club.” He does not, and cannot, meet the membership criteria, unless he can change his skin color. Primarily, we are concerned with the needs and concerns of the black population, and we will not allow white America to infringe on those objectives.
However, Rangel reportedly opposed apartheid in South Africa.
There is no Caucasian Congressional Caucus, Asian Congressional Caucus, Native American Congressional Caucus, or Alaskan Native Congressional Caucus. However, there is a Congressional Hispanic Caucus in which all members are Democrats and another group, the Congressional Hispanic Conference, which comprises all Republicans.
In 1960, Rangel ran for Congress against Adam Clayton Powell, “one of the most prominent African-American politicians at the time.” Powell served from 1945 to 1971, “but was eventually removed from his seat by the Democratic members-elect of the 90th Congress following allegations of corruption.”
Now, Rangel faces a primary against Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of the man defeated by Rangel, who announced his bid for the congressional seat in April.
Rangel’s ethics trial officially began today. Among the charges are failing to report income and pay appropriate taxes, violating the Ethics Reform Act, “using congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a center for public service to bear Rangel’s name on the New York campus of the City College of New York,” and inappropriately accepting gifts from donors “that may have influenced his congressional actions.”
In response to the charges, Rangel is reported to have said, “Even though they are serious charges, I’m prepared to prove that the only thing I’ve ever had in my 50 years of public service is service. That’s what I’ve done and if I’ve been overzealous providing that service, I can’t make an excuse for the serious violations.”
Rangel introduced a bill in the House of Representatives on July 15, 2010 mandating national service for persons aged 18-42 which states:
The President shall provide for the induction of persons described in section 102(a) to perform their national service obligation.