#1 Chairman Rangel (Democrats are the Party of Corruption)
09-15-2008, 12:04 AM
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- Aug 2005
Chairman Rangel (Democrats are the Party of Corruption)
Mounting embarrassment for taxpayers and Congress makes it imperative that Representative Charles Rangel step aside as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee while his ethical problems are investigated.
This recommendation does not come easily, considering the New York Democrat’s four decades of service in Congress. But Mr. Rangel himself has felt obliged to request three separate House ethics inquiries of his behavior. While denying serious improprieties, Mr. Rangel concedes that he has not lived up to the “higher standard” expected of members of Congress.
His latest admission is that as chief of Congress’s tax-writing committee, he was “irresponsible” in failing to disclose $75,000 in rental income and pay federal and state taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic.
His temporary yielding of the gavel is an urgent necessity for a Democratic Congress elected two years ago on promises of an ethical housecleaning. The villa dealings only add momentum to the investigations of two earlier controversies — Mr. Rangel’s favored treatment in occupying four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan, and his improper use of official letterheads to solicit support from charities and corporations for an academic center to memorialize his career in public service.
Mr. Rangel has hurt his case with clumsy, combative pleas of ignorance of the facts and law involving his Dominican villa. “We do make errors, even though we consider ourselves experts in terms of tax policy for the nation,” said the lawmaker, who has three decades’ experience on Ways and Means.
His excuse of “cultural and language barriers” with Dominican officials was, simply, offensive. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” complained Mr. Rangel.
At the least, the disclosures betray that gross sense of entitlement that regularly befalls politicians. At the Dominican villa, which the congressman said he came upon 20 years ago during an overseas trip with Speaker Tip O’Neill, Mr. Rangel eventually saw his 10.5 percent mortgage interest payments waived when the developer favored him as a “Pioneer” early investor.
The powerful congressman has enjoyed his rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem — improperly using one as a campaign office — at about half market value. This is a $30,000-a-year boon, and the ethics committee must decide whether it amounts to a gift from a politically savvy landlord that would violate House rules. The panel must also weigh how badly Mr. Rangel violated official letterhead restrictions.
As a new Congress approaches with a thick docket of fiscal and tax measures, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must see that no cloud hangs over Ways and Means while the chairman is under investigation. The Democratic majority arrived last year promising to “drain the swamp” of corruption epitomized by the previous Republican majority’s quid-pro-quo dealings with Jack Abramoff, the now-imprisoned superlobbyist.
09-15-2008, 12:31 AM
what ever happened with that scumbag from NOLA? Jefferson?Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
09-15-2008, 12:38 AM
Indicted Louisiana House member bids for 10th term
By KEVIN McGILL – Aug 31, 2008
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sordid bribery allegations and jokes about "cold cash" hidden in Rep. William Jefferson's freezer apparently did not matter much to voters two years ago when the New Orleans Democrat won a runoff election for his long-held congressional seat with a surprising 57 percent.
Hurricane Katrina was a fresh memory throughout much of the city. Jefferson lost his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee amid the burgeoning scandal, yet could argue that his seniority and clout in Congress were vital to the region.
Now that two more years have passed, Jefferson's political future has become more precarious. He is awaiting trial in Virginia on federal bribery charges; his brother and two sisters are ensnared in a separate federal criminal case in New Orleans.
Donations to his re-election have slowed and there is a reported campaign debt of $250,000. Still, few count Jefferson completely out as he faces six challengers in Saturday's primary.
While campaigning for a new term, Jefferson also is preparing for a December federal trial in Virginia on allegations that he took bribes, laundered money and misused his congressional office for business dealings in Africa. He is accused of taking about $500,000 in bribes and travel expenses and about 34 million shares of corporate stock.
In what became fodder for late-night talk show monologues well before he was indicted, Jefferson is famously alleged to have hidden in his freezer some $90,000 received from an FBI informant. Jefferson, who did not grant an interview for this story, has maintained his innocence.
Meanwhile, his brother Mose and sister Betty, a New Orleans tax assessor, have been indicted on federal fraud charges in New Orleans. Both are accused of using family owned companies to funnel federal and state grant money to themselves for personal use.
A second sister, Brenda Jefferson, pleaded guilty in June to helping conceal the alleged schemeThis is bigger than presidential politics. This is a battle for America.
09-15-2008, 12:48 AMthe New Orleans Democrat won a runoff election for his long-held congressional seat with a surprising 57 percent.Stand up for what is right, even if you have to stand alone.
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