Send Rangel Packing!

(Note: I just read news on one of my hometown’s news sites – click here – that Sarah Palin’s daughter Willow used gay slurs against another Facebook user. Some kid named Tre commented, albeit dishonestly, that “Sarah Palin’s Alaska is failing so hard right now”. This was said despite the fact that the show garnered more viewers on its debut episode than any other show in TLC’s history. Willow fired back calling him a “faggot” and posted on his wall, “Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I’ve seen pictures of, your disgusting.” All of us here, myself included, have long supported and defended Sarah and her family and I am stung by this latest revelation. Sarah is going to be in Phoenix, which is where I now reside, next week and I had planned to attend the event. I will personally follow this story and report on what happens, if anything.)

I would write a post about the brave soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor today, but the good sergeant is uncomfortable in the spotlight and doesn’t feel he deserves it. While I respectfully disagree, there is another matter that caught my attention.

New York Democrat Charlie Rangel, a member of the US House of Representatives for 40 years, was found guilty today by a panel of four Republicans and four Democrats of 11 of the 13 charges against him.

In 2008, the New York Times reported that Rangel had rented four rent-controlled units in a Harlem apartment complex at less than half the market value. He was living in three, which had been combined to one unit, and was using the fourth as his campaign headquarters. The same story claimed that one of the owners of the property (a member of the Olnick Organization) had contributed heavily to Rangel. It was later reported that he’d failed to report income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic – and he was supposed to report that income both to the IRS and to the House of Representatives. It came out that, while occupying his rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, he was also claiming a homestead tax break on a home in the District – and when he sold that home in the Capitol, he failed to report that income as well. He fought for tens of millions of dollars in tax shelters for Nabors Industries, which had contributed $1 million to the City College of New York to have a school named after Rangel. He paid $80,000 to his son’s internet server company to create a PAC website that was so poorly designed that experts said it shouldn’t have cost more than $100. It was discovered he had upwards of $500,000 in a credit union checking account, two properties in New Jersey, stock in PepsiCo and other companies – all of which he failed to report.

Then, about a year ago, Rangel used his clout as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to stop legislation that would have brought to a screeching halt nearly $4 billion in bailouts for a British rum distillery, Diageo, to make rum in the US Virgin Islands. Just before he did this it was discovered he received an undisclosed amount of campaign contributions for the deal.

In March of this year, Rangel announced he was taking a leave of absence from his post on the House Ways and Means Committee (which, by the way, writes legislation relating to tax codes). Yesterday, his hearing before the aforementioned board began. However, just a short while into the hearing, Rangel announced that he could no longer afford legal representation after paying his lawyers $2 million and refused to defend himself (despite being a lawyer). He walked out of the hearing. Of the 13 charges against him the panel found him guilty of 11. What’s astounding was his salty reaction: “How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room? I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions.”

That’s rich. After 40 years in Congress, he is caught greasing palms and accepting inappropriate favors, and he walks out on his own hearing, refusing to even stand in his own defense – and it’s somehow the panel’s fault? I’m sorry, but I was pretty sure this was a CONGRESSIONAL panel, not a court of law. The Constitution doesn’t necessarily apply to House Ethics Panels. If you break the rules of the House (which are not listed in the founding documents, BTW), you are subject to a different set of rules – much like the military and the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). You’re not facing jail time, Charlie. We’re talking about loss of Congressional seniority and privileges. It’s a tad different.

Somehow, though, I get the feeling that the man will die in office, just as Robert Byrd and Ted Kennedy did before him. He’ll refuse to retire. His constituents will refuse to abandon him no matter how crooked he is. He will ride that wave of ridiculous loyalty to his grave because his constituents are just as crooked as he is and are only looking out for Number One. When the shoe’s on the other foot, though, they’ll accuse everyone else in America of the same damn thing while they demand free healthcare and housing.

Wonder why Rangel cursed and walked away from Jason Mattera in 2008 when Mattera had the gall to question him on his ethics? Because he’s guilty and he has no defense.