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Charlie Rangel forgets to disclose $600,000 in income. Should he give up the Ways and Means gavel?

 Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel

He has the most powerful perch in Congress as head of the House Ways and Means Committee.

He is connected -- one of the original Friends of Bill (Clinton), an avid supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But New York Democrat Charlie Rangel is under increasing pressure to step down as chairman in the wake of an ethics investigation over his failure to report $600,000 in assets in his Senate financial disclosure form. In recent “amendments” to his reports, Rangel acknowledged that he omitted just a few assets -- such as a Merrill Lynch Global account worth at least $250,000, holdings in PepsiCo and Yum! Brands stocks,  a vacation property in the Dominican Republic and, oh yeah, up to $100,000 in rent from a Harlem brownstone that he sold in 2004 for more than $1 million.

As the Wall Street Journal put it in an editorial, “When normal people happen to 'find' their own money, it might mean a twenty left in a winter coat, or discovering change beneath the sofa cushions. But if you're Charlie Rangel, it means doubling your net worth.”

Republicans, led by California’s Darrell Issa, are urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) to topple Rangel from the chairman's seat and calling on Rangel to release his income taxes. “He’s got to resolve the difference on whether these are reporting errors on a financial disclosure form or whether he’s been filing false returns with the IRS,” Issa said.

In September, when it was disclosed that Rangel failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic resort condo, the gravelly-voiced, 79-year-old Harlem congressman said, “I really don’t believe making mistakes means you have to give up your career.

Pelosi has told aides that she has no intention of stripping Rangel of his gavel, explaining that she wants the Ethics Committee to investigate Rangel’s lapses without any meddling from Democratic leaders.

“Charlie Rangel is a very distinguished member of the House of Representatives,” Pelosi said this week. “Whatever the leaders on their side say, he is very well-respected by members on both sides of the aisle.”

Maybe, but good government types are not swayed. “If you come in on a platform of cleaning up corruption, you can’t excuse members of your own caucus,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.

Referring to the just-convicted Louisiana Democrat William Jefferson, the one who stuffed $90,000 in his freezer wrapped in tin foil, Jazz Shaw wrote, "There's really nothing missing from this story except a few piddling questions about why Charlie couldn't afford a bigger freezer and couldn't somebody have loaned the guy a couple of rolls of aluminum foil?"

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments () | Archives (14)

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What Mr.Charlie Rangel has done is very common in political world. Every body is naked in their pants. If some body strip them off they all look ugly. In any part of the world, law and its enforcement are meant for common people. We all are helpless in any kind of system.

Rangel, along with the IRS, is setting presedence for lying on your income tax and getting away with it. Why worry if you get merely have to re-file and pay the tax. If that is not incintive to cheat, I don't know what is! Of course, you and I, would not have the same treatment I suspect. What makes Rangel exempt from the same laws as the rest of us. Leaving politics out of this, I am abashed that our elected officials have the audicity to think they are better than our laws.

Politicians like Rangel are not sensitive to ethical issues.Further,the Democaratic Party will not ask him to let go of the committee.And the mainstream media will as usual look the other way.You can bet your last dollar.

You're my hero Charlie!
Be strong and keep bobbin' and weavin'!!!

In a word ..... YES

He is a disgrace. He should loose his job. There is no accountability in Washington. Hasn't been for a long time. America wake up and make them pay!!!

Rangel is a crook, liar and traitor. If the people of his district don't vote this criminal out of office, they deserve what they get. As for Pelosi calling him a well respected member of the house, that is a joke! Pelosi is also a crook, liar and traitor! These criminals must be removed from our government. They are a prime examples of what Americans don't want in their elected officials.

Rangel is quoted: “I really don’t believe making mistakes means you have to give up your career.”

Well said, IF it depends on the career: When a pizza delivery boy goes to the wrong address, maybe he should be forgiven. When an airplane pilot hits the control tower while landing, maybe he should not.

Should a person who repeatedly misreports income be allowed to head the House Ways and Means Committee? Is the committee his career? Or is being a Representative in Congress his career?

The gaul of Pelosi and her minions is so profound and the media ddoes not hound these clowns to demand accountability

I think the whole reason China's beating us internationally is because they have the death penalty for corruption and they use it.

Now that's a law I would support.

So many of our politicians have cheated on their taxes, taken favorable mortgages or other kick-backs, and just exploited their position. All should be arrested or thrown out of Congress. That is the only way to take out the special interests and corruption from the system.

Rangel step down? This guy is a street thug criminal who should be locked up for 20 years! And he has the unmitigated gal to introduce legislation to punish Americans who make a LEGITIMATE mistake on their taxes? Excuse me, blood is shooting out of my eyes. When will the idiots who keep electing this guy wake up?

If he doesn't go to jail or get fined then I suggest we all "forget" to report our income every year until we get the same $600,000 tax "credit."

If I did that I would be living under some Federal Prison in Russia.

Congress needs to eliminate this fool. My name is Donald Trump and "You're Fired!"

How long till he plays the race card? and cry s victim?


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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