Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 16, 2010

     I write today about the sad, bad end of a distinguished Congressional career, that of Harlem Democrat Charles Rangel, whom everyone on Capitol Hill calls "Charlie."  He won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart in the Korean War.  He was first elected to the House in 1971 and has held the seat ever since.  He helped found the Black Caucus.  He rose to become Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee--that's the one that writes the tax laws.  He's smart and funny and reporters like him.
     And now--oh, dear.  The House Ethics Committee ruled there was evidence to support 13 counts of misconduct by Rangel.  He walked out of the hearing, but the committee's chief counsel listed evidence against him--549 exhibits, dozens of interviews, thousands of pages of testimony.
     The charges are white-collar crime--accepting rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan developer, failure to pay income tax on rent from a villa, soliciting charitable donations from people with business before Congress, and the like.  Members said later the facts against Rangel were "uncontested."
     They won't expel him;  they could but they almost never do.  Instead he'll get censure or a reprimand, still a black smudge at the end of a fine career.
     I'm sorry, Charlie.

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