Time For Charlie Rangel To Go

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on February 26, 2010

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Now that the House Ethics Committee has rendered its judgment, and has found that Congressman Charlie Rangel broke Congressional gift rules by taking trips to the Caribbean financed by corporate interests, is it too much to ask that he pay the consequences?

Beyond the trips, Rangel faces more troublesome allegations regarding his failure to pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, the use of his congressional office to raise money for the wing of a New York college named in his honor, revised financial disclosure forms that show more than $500,000 in previously unreported wealth, and his use of a rent-controlled apartment for his political committees.

Rangel said Thursday that he met with ethics investigators about a month ago to discuss those issues but he offered no details of those discussions.

Since Rangel asked the ethics panel in the summer of 2008 to scrutinize his activities, which had become a source of controversy, Democrats have defeated a series of GOP resolutions calling for his resignation as Ways and Means chairman.

It is nice to know that at least some Democrats have finally started speaking out:

After months of holding ranks, Democrats are finally turning on House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in the wake of an ethics committee finding that he violated House rules by accepting a Caribbean junket.

Early Friday, Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) told POLITICO he wants Rangel to quit his powerful committee post — and that was quickly followed by similar statements from a pair of deep south Democrats, Mississippi Rep. Gene Taylor and Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright.

Hodes, facing an uphill battle in a tough Senate race, released a statement saying: “I honor and respect Charlie Rangel’s lifetime of service as a soldier serving our country in Korea and as a public servant. But Washington must be held to the highest ethical standards. Regrettably, with the finding of ethics violations, Charlie Rangel should step down from his leadership position.”

Moments later, during a vote in the House, Taylor, a 10-term representative from the Gulf Coast, told POLITICO that Rangel “should step down, or at least step aside until all this is resolved.”

Taylor challenged Democratic leadership, which has backed Rangel, to move quickly.

“The citizens of his home state sent him here, that’s their decision. But members of the [Democratic Caucus] made him chairman of that committee, and he should step down until all this is resolved.”

It took long enough for these calls to be issued. But even now, none of the people demanding that Charlie Rangel step down can be found in the House leadership. What does it take for Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, James Clyburn, and Chris Van Hollen to tell Rangel that his time is up?

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