It’s all my fault.How's that defense working out? Not so well among some of his constituents.
If Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has problems with the House Ethics Committee, he can blame me.
I bear some responsibility. I helped get him into the mess in first place.
It was July, 2008. And the New York press corps was frothing with blockbuster stories that alleged Rangel failed to pay taxes on his vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. And that he misappropriated Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a school of public service in his name at City College of New York. And that Rangel used four, rent-controlled apartment in Harlem for political purposes.
Rangel said he would pay the back taxes owed on the Caribbean vacation home and straighten out his House financial disclosure reports. And Rangel said he could explain the problem with the Congressional stationary. Plus, he argued he was on the right side of the law with the Manhattan apartments.
But the story churned. It soon brewed into a political maelstrom. And after weeks of charges and sparring with reporters, Rangel had had enough.
If people wanted to investigate him so badly, so be it. Rangel would let them take their best shot. And he would take the extraordinary step of referring himself to the House Ethics Committee to sort this all out.
So on July 31, 2008, I asked Rangel why anyone would throw himself at the mercy of House ethics investigators.
His response was brazen. Cocky. Boastful.
“When you’re as clean as the driven snow, no matter the accusations, just denying is not enough,” Rangel answered.
The retort shocked me. Politicians usually answer in bland generalities. But this was emphatic. Declarative. And I’ve also been around long enough to know when someone is tempting fate.
In other words, in Rangel’s mind, all of this was just a misunderstanding. The Ethics Committee would see this Rangel’s way. And then he could emerge from this nebula that clouded his Congressional career.
Many voters said the legendary Harlem politician -- once one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress -- had let them down.Instead he's still whining like a little bitch.
"He's a crook! It's basic common sense. He cheated on his taxes. He stole from us. He should resign," said 29-year-old cashier Michelle Ross.
Nurse's aide Charmaine West, 40, said, "He should pay. He did a terrible thing. Congressmen are supposed to be above this."
Eric Grace, 43, a customer-service representative, said Rangel should "throw in the towel" because he "doesn't have the right values to be in office."
Yesterday's verdict made official what everyone has long known -- that Charlie Rangel is just another corrupt, old pol.Former Speaker Pelosi: How's that swamp-draining going? Maybe the two of you should be co-Minority Leaders.
Again, he didn't even bother to contest the charges, many of which were first made public by The Post.
Rangel's violations included failing to pay taxes and to fully disclose income and assets; using a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office; soliciting funds from folks with business before his committee, and several others.
A weasel to the end, he now claims he was unfairly convicted.
How positively lame.
What the full committee will do now is anybody's guess.
Rangel deserves to be drop-kicked right off Capitol Hill. But Congress takes care of its own, so no one should expect more than a mild rebuke.
And even more whining from the congressman. It's what he does best.