Jim Kouri
Rangel pleads: I am not corrupt
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By Jim Kouri
November 20, 2010

The usually boisterous and outspoken congressman reminded many observers of President Richard M Nixon's famous statement, "I am not a crook," when he pleaded with the ethics committee to stop calling him corrupt.

One of the U.S. House of Representatives' longest serving lawmaker, Representative Charles Rangel, will be censured if the House complies with Thursday's recommendation by the House Ethics Committee members who investigated corruption allegations against the Harlem liberal.

Following the House's Thanksgiving holiday break, lawmakers are expected to address the disciplining of Rangel for financial and fundraising misconduct.

The usually boisterous and outspoken congressman reminded many observers of President Richard M Nixon's famous statement, "I am not a crook," when he pleaded with the ethics committee to stop calling him corrupt.

"Although prior committee precedent for recommendation of censure involved many cases of direct financial gain, this committee's recommendation of censure is based on the cumulative nature of the violations and not any direct personal financial gain," the committee said in a report.

The ethics committee deliberated for more that two hours and returned a 9-1 vote to recommend a censure, as well as having Rangel pay taxes he owed on income from a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. The congressmen could render a less severe punishment — a verbal reprimand — which would not entail a public rebuke on the floor of congress.

Rangel has been convicted in the ethics trial on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing, including his use of House letterheads and staff to solicit money for a college center named after him. Some of the contributors had business before the House committee Rangel chaired as a result of the Democrat takeover of both houses of congress. As chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, part of Rangel's duties includes writing and revising tax laws.

Rangel also issued financial statements understating his assets and he converted a subsidized New York apartment — designated for residential use — into a campaign office. The tax issue was a sore point for several members of the ethics committee, who said it was especially egregious that a former chairman of the House's tax-writing committee failed for 17 years to pay taxes on the income from his island villa.

"Rangel is not the kind of person to give up easily. He's been a congressman representing a district in New York that includes Harlem and Washington Heights for 40 years and he possesses a reputation as a fighter," said political strategist Mike Baker.

Others were less kind in their remarks. For instance, a former New York City police detective claims Rangel was a Democrat Party hack in the Big Apple, who "carried the bags for the boys downtown."

"As a young detective, I had to straighten out Charlie [Rangel] while he was working as a defense attorney and ran errands for some of New York's more despicable characters," said former NYPD detective Sid Frances, owner of a Harlem-based security firm.

Ironically, Rangel achieved his chairmanship when he and other Democrats took control of the House in 2006 after using campaign slogans and talking-points that characterized Republicans as denizens of a "culture of corruption."

"Imagine if the IRS treated everyone who evaded taxes they same way they treat these 'public servants' and their minions. It should outrage all Americans who struggle to pay their taxes that these politicians flagrantly break the laws citizens must obey," Baker said.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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