Diary

The ongoing saga of Charlie Rangel: Why now’s the time he needs to step down

One month, 12 months and 15 months.

That’s how long it has been since we learned of Congressman Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) most recent failure to disclose financial assets, since the New York Times first called for him to step down as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and since the House Ethics Committee began investigating Rangel’s previous violations, respectively.

Yet through all that — despite all the revelations of not disclosing income and not paying taxes — Mr. Rangel still runs the committee that oversees the IRS and enforces the tax laws for all Americans, except for himself.

To allow Mr. Rangel to continue to serve as Chairman is the same as allowing a confessed bank robber to serve as Chairman of the Banking Committee during the trial.

The reputation and integrity of this body has suffered serious damage by the actions of Mr. Rangel, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not lived up to her promise to make this the most honest and ethical House in history.

So last week, I said I would give Mr. Rangel until this week to voluntarily resign the chairmanship of Ways and Means, or I would introduce a Privileged Resolution to force his removal. Mr. Rangel has not stepped down, so I have introduced this resolution.

And Democrats continue to support him. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer already has said he’ll move to block this attempt.

Mr. Rangel’s list of violations continues to grow. You or I would have paid tens of thousands of dollars in interest and penalties had we committed similar tax evasions. Rangel apparently is immune from penalties, which is unethical, but especially unscrupulous when you consider his powerful Chairman position.

This is not the first time I have moved to have Mr. Rangel removed from his chairmanship. I offered a similar Privileged Resolution in February, but Democrats under Speaker Pelosi blocked consideration of the bill.

When the Ethics Committee first began investigating Mr. Rangel on July 31, 2008, Speaker Pelosi publicly stated that the investigation would be complete before the end of 2008. But with the probe now well into its second year, the investigation has already been expanded twice to include new charges of tax and ethics violations by Mr. Rangel.

My hope is that Mr. Rangel’s resignation from his position is just the tip of the iceberg in a real push to make this House more ethical since Speaker Pelosi apparently is unwilling to do so herself.