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Charlie Rangel and the case of the idle Mercedes

By Ben Pershing
A House ethics panel has accused Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) of violating a host of rules and regulations, but it appears to have let him off the hook in The Case of the Idle Mercedes.

Among the allegations against the longtime lawmaker -- initially leveled in a 2008 New York Post article -- was the charge that he improperly stored a car in a House garage. Though members of Congress are given two parking spaces, it appeared as though Rangel's Mercedes -- which was parked in a House space for roughly five years beginning in 2003 -- violated a prohibition against keeping a car parked there for more than 45 consecutive days.

But the ethics subcommittee found that Rangel did not commit any violation because the rule was never applied to lawmakers, only staff.

"While Representative Rangel appears to have stored his Mercedes for more than 45 days in violation of the written Parking Policies, the actual practice of the Parking Office was not to take action against parking violations by a Member," the subcommittee found, according to a separate report issued on the parking matter. "Because of that practice, the Parking Office did not provide any type of notice to Representative Rangel, as it would have to a staff member who was in violation of the Parking Policies."

But the mystery doesn't end there. Even though Rangel only had two cars, according to the report, the Mercedes and a Chrysler PT Cruiser, he appears to have lost track of the Mercedes entirely. Let's go back to the report:

When asked if the Mercedes ever stayed in the parking garage more than forty-five days at a time, Representative Rangel responded, "I don't [sic] know where it was until someone told me that it was in the garage. I didn't see it. Well, at one time I knew it was near my car. And then another time some Member told me they saw the car." Similarly, when asked if he knew how long the car stayed in the garage, Representative Rangel stated, "I don't know. I was reminded it was in the garage when I read it in the New York Post." Similarly, Representative Rangel said, "I don't really remember" when asked when he had last driven the car, continuing, "No one told me that -- the car was there. I read it in the Post. I didn't know it was there. But no one told me that the car shouldn't be there. I had no notice and whatnot."

The panel did recommend that the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over the garages, do a better job enforcing its parking rules and making sure that lawmakers report on their taxes the "imputed income" they receive from the free parking spaces.

As for the Mercedes, Rangel reportedly had it towed from the House garage in 2008. It's unclear whether the subcommittee -- or Rangel -- knows its current whereabouts.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 29, 2010; 5:09 PM ET
Categories:  Capitol Briefing  | Tags: charles rangel; charles rangel ethics; rangel mercedes  
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Next: Rep. Anthony Weiner lights into GOP colleagues

Comments

I bet they wouldn't let me off if I stored my '66 GTO Convertible there in violation of the rules.....But then I'm not a Black crooked politician....

Posted by: TexRancher | August 2, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Why is Rangel only up on House ethics charges? If true, Mr Rangel should be charged with income tax evaision, convicted and sent off to prision in his senior years. I am so, so sick of Congress being treated differently than the average American citizen. Do you think you or I would not be so charged if we pulled the same shinanigans?

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Posted by: BucMcmaster | August 2, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

What is sad is they will spend all this time and money and at the last minute he will resign and keep all of benifits.

Posted by: jamesf1 | August 2, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

If those quotes are accurate, Rangel's defense will be senility when he has to explain his four rent-stabilized apartments and his property in Colombia.

Posted by: myoung22 | July 31, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Obviously, although "All 'men' are created equal", some are (or consider themselves to be) more equal than others. What an excellent example of the arrogance of far, far too many members of Congress. It's a government OF THE PEOPLE, ladies and gentlemen, not at the convenience (and illicit pocket-lining) of you, our elected hired help.

Posted by: 65tarheel | July 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I am all for "investigative reporting," but this is a complete non-story - on an "issue" the Ethics folks already decided was NOT an issue. Get your priorities straight, please! The Post has used more print space on Rangel today than on the IMPORTANT issue of the 9/11 emergency workers who desperately need medical care for the diseases they developed from being at Ground Zero, and the Republican Congresspeople who voted NOT to give medical benefits to these 9/11 workers - who are sick from doing the right thing when our country was under attack. How about some coverage of ALL the Republicans - by name - who voted "NO" on help for our heroes because they could not hang a bunch of irrelevant amendments on the Bill to provide them with medical care? Or the brave and honest comments of Congressperson Weiner from New York who had the courage to tell the "NO" voters about themselves and their cowardice in failing to vote for the medical care. Get a real story, please. So the Rangel car was non-functional and he had it towed - who cares? He chose a trial before the Ethics Committee - if they didn't think the car was an issue, why would we? Sorry, but this is not "tax evasion," it is PARKING - in his own allotted space - unless, of course, you were planning to write a front page story about each and every other Congressperson who did not declare it on their taxes?

Posted by: rmcdetal | July 30, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

RANGEL IS THE POSTER CHILD FOR TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Nancianne | July 30, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

RANGEL IS THE POSTER CHILD FOR TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Nancianne | July 30, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The man has too much in his pockets and not enough upstairs. Who would forget that they owned a Mercedes-Benz or where they put it? Amazing. It's not much of a story, but it does go toward painting a picture of a person's competence.

Posted by: sober1 | July 30, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Rangel should go to jail, If this was a Repub, then BO, Fibbs and Pelosi would all be on TV 24/7 decrying the corruption in the Other Party! instead the silence is deafening and the Major TV networks are barely mentioning rangel.

Another Journolist coverup!

Posted by: morphy | July 30, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

GHW-NC took my words away. He/she is right.
This is a non-story. This is a space filler - nothing else.

Posted by: Kansas28 | July 30, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

All these hand-wringing and tsk-tsking about Mr. Rangel will never amount to anything. He is untouchable. Neither Pelosi nor Obama dare to do so. Otherwise, the former will be branded a racist and the latter an Oreo. Besides, what Mr. Rangel is accused of doing is what every politician, regardless of party, do very well every day. Graft and corruption is a way of life for these jokers.

Posted by: usnret742w4 | July 30, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

This is a "non story", a waste of print and space. Better to have allocated the space to more relevant abuses of how much legislators get in "bribes" (lobbyists' gifts, perks, fund donations) and how they influence a legislator's votes).

As far as the tax evasion, give me a break, the average "joe the plumber" probably evades more tax than the tax on that garage space.

Lets read a real story.

Posted by: GHW-NC | July 30, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I am outraged that Rangel gets away with tax evasion.

Posted by: scattered | July 29, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

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