Charlie Rangel has had a rough time the past two years. Ever since 2008 when the House ethics committee brought up serious charges against the veteran Democrat, Rangel has been hounded for answers to the allegations. Consistently he has denied the charges, probably in hopes his Democrat buddies in Congress would drop the investigation and it would all blow over. Unfortunately for Rangel the House ethics committee concluded after 18 months that he did in fact violate ethics rules. That may explain why Rangel is now scrambling behind the lines for a backroom deal. A backroom deal may be his only hope of saving himself and his fellow Democrats much unneeded embarrassment as the November elections draws near.
Publically, Rangel has been walked in stride and welcomed the upcoming trial stating, “at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media.” That is very true, but it does not look like Rangel will come out of this clean. Here are a few of the charges the sunshine will focus on:
– Rangel’s failure to disclose checking accounts totaling up to $750,000 as well as dividend income from mutual funds and stocks in the tens of thousands of dollars.
– Use of Congressional stationary to help raise funds for a City College of New York center named after him
– Use of a rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan as a campaign office
– Non-disclosure of a rental income of his villa in the Dominican Republic
– How he financed the purchase of the Dominican Republic villa.
Regarding to the allegations, Rangel stated “I will be glad to respond to the allegations at such time as the ethics committee makes them public.” His chance to do that is coming. The Washington Post has reported that the ethics committee is expected to announce the details of the charges against Rangel next Thursday. Then when Congress resumes in September after a 6 ½ week recess a full trial will likely begin. The timing is very inconvenient for Rangel given that his primary race against New York State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV is on September 14th.
This whole Rangel debacle must be a thorn in Nancy Pelosi’s side. I am sure when she declared her intentions to “drain the swamp” of corruption in Congress she did not plan on her friend being one of the biggest monsters to do down the drain. Perhaps that is what sparked last minute backroom deals.
One of Pelosi’s top lieutenants, George Miller stated yesterday “I think it’s best that he settle… Because I just said so, that’s why. That’s my feeling.” That is a bold statement from Pelosi’s inner circle that came a day before other top House Democrats met with Rangel about the charges. However, even with Democrats being backroom deal gurus it is looking slim that an agreement will be made this time. Any deal would have Rangel admit guilt to the charges and require at least one Republican on the committee to sign onto the agreement.
Either way you slice this situation up, Rangel is in quite a pickle and Democrats will no doubt suffer collateral damage. Being a Congressman in the Harlem district of New York Rangel will easily be re-elected should he live through the primaries, but that is not a wart Democrats want to be seen. The few choices Rangel has all lead to a bad ending. He can tell Pelosi and the ethics committee members to “mind your g**d*** business” and hope for the best during the trial, he can agree to any deal that puts an end to this mess, or he can resign and relax on the beach near his villa.
All I have to say is – good luck Chuck!