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The sad spectacle of Charlie Rangel

By Jonathan Capehart

[Update, 12:45 p.m.: The ethics panel has found Rep. Rangel guilty of 11 of the 13 counts of violating House rules.]

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is a legend -- in New York and in his own mind. Legends think the normal rules of life don't apply to them. That they somehow can defy gravity and reality. And as we saw yesterday, Rangel's brush with political death hasn't diminished his high self-regard. The once-powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee stood before a jury of his congressional peers a pathetic figure. That is, before he walked out. 

Dana Milbank has a great synopsis of yesterday's theater. And you can click here for a recap of my musings on Rangel's self-inflicted predicament. 

Having gone toe-to-toe with Rangel in the past and being aware of his crazy-like-fox ways, part of me wants to believe that his antics yesterday were part of a long-running and elaborate scheme to run out the clock. But what clock and to what end? While the prosecutor said flat out that he thought Rangel was "sloppy," not "corrupt," Mr. Chairman's sloppiness has diminished his standing, sullied his reputation and tainted his name. That voters in his district sent him back for a 21st congressional term should be viewed more as an act of charity than fidelity.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 16, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Rangel isn't sloppy. He's corrupt.

There is a difference, and we all know it.

Posted by: Benson | November 16, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Big deal,whats going to happen to him ?Nothing but a don't do it again.That's why Rangle is making it into the farce that it is.If they were serious about cleaning up Washington then this man should be asked to resign or they remove him for blatant disregard for the law.You know,"clean the swamp"

Posted by: votingrevolution1 | November 16, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

And people in the black community still whine about all of their problems at the hand of whitey while sending crooks like him back to DC time after time. So much for an informed electorate.

Posted by: j751 | November 16, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Rangel was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. This committee writes the US tax code. Rangel didn't report the income from his rental villa on his tax return. Even the dumbest tax return preparer knows that is illegal. Rangel is either too dumb to be responsible for overseeing the tax code or he is nothing other than a criminal. My vote is that he is just another sleazy politician and a criminal.

Posted by: mtrobt | November 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Rangel was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. This committee writes the US tax code. Rangel didn't report the income from his rental villa on his tax return. Even the dumbest tax return preparer knows that is illegal. Rangel is either too dumb to be responsible for overseeing the tax code or he is nothing other than a criminal. My vote is that he is just another sleazy politician and a criminal.

Posted by: mtrobt | November 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Mr Capehart,

Charlie Rangel is just another "cold cash jefferson" & just as big of a CROOK as Representative Jefferson ever was.

IF the DIMocRAT Party "leadership" had either morals, any common decency or even a minimal sense of shame, they would throw Rangel out of the HoR and into the street.

but of course, we all know that the DIMocRATS don't really care about HONESTY in government.- instead they care about POWER & MONEY, but nothing else.
(after all, they had a DIMocRAT US Senator for many years,Robert "KKK" Byrd, DIMocRAT of WV, who was a sitting KU KLUX KLAN national officer, as "a shining light of our party".)


yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 16, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Obviously, his strategy was to whine, whine, whine and try to make himself look like victim.

Charlie shoulda manned up and settled before now.

Posted by: edismae | November 16, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Marion Barry Redux. Regardless of guilt, no meaningful punishment and no problems with future elections.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 16, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Senate Majority Leader):
Exchanged earmarks for campaign contributions by clients of his former chief of staff.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK):
Purchased land in Alaska for a price below market value & accepted a mortgage on terms not available to the general public; failed to disclose the transaction in her 2006 financial disclosure report.

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN):
Repeatedly failed to properly report campaign receipts and expenditures, including payments made to a family-owned business.

Rep Roy Blunt (R-MO):
Acceped bribes;
Family or Friends Honest Services Fraud; Illegal Gratuity;
Improper Conduct;
Solicitation of Gifts Travel Violations;
Received bribes and provided legislative assistance to Jack Abramoff.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL):
Made conduit contributions to his campaign and for improperly using cars from his dealership in his campaign.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA):
Under investigation by the DOJ for:
Earmarking for personal gain;
Illegally purchasing land.

Rep. John Ensign (R-NV):
Had an affair with a campaign staffer married to his chief of staff and then fired them both when the affair ended;
Paid her severance without reporting it to the FEC.
Helped his former chief of staff to start a lobbying business in violation of revolving door laws.
Under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
Being investigated by the DOJ for steering hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarks to family and friends in exchange for campaign contributions.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA):
Misusing official resources for political campaign activity. He is reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY):
Steering millions of dollars in earmarks to campaign contributors, including a company that employs his son.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX):
Enrichment and aiding Jack Abramoff's clients;
Promoting the interest of a defense contractor that employs his former communications director.

Rep. Mike Turn (R-OH):
His wife’s marketing firm won a no-bid contract from a group that receives federal funding.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Kitchendragon50, why would you compare Senator Rangel's charges with what Marion Barey was indicted for - there's no similiarity to the charges whatsoever.

Apparently there are some comments in violation of certain ethical standards.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

David Vitter (R-LA):

On July 9, 2007, it was revealed that Sen. Vitter's telephone number was included in the so-called "D.C. Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey's, list of client telephone numbers. Sen. Vitter confirmed that he had sought Ms. Palfrey's services, saying in a statement, "this was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible."

Two other women also have alleged that Sen. Vitter engaged the services of prostitutes. According to Jeanette Maier, the "Canal Street Madam," Senator Vitter visited a New Orleans, Louisiana brothel several times in the mid-1990s and a woman who worked as a prostitute under the name of Wendy Cortez has claimed that several years ago, Senator Vitter was a regular client of hers.

Engaging the services of a prostitute violates both District of Columbia and Louisiana criminal law.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

December 1998:

"...Speaker Newt Gingrich has completed payment of a $300,000 penalty imposed for violations of House rules, the ethics committee said Wednesday.

"Gingrich made the final payment of $150,000, the committee said, and "has now satisfied in full" the obligation imposed in January 1997.

"The outgoing speaker originally arranged a loan from ex-Sen. Bob Dole to help with the payments but decided instead to handle the penalty from personal funds.

"Gingrich, who also was reprimanded by the House two years ago, admitted he misled the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and should have sought better legal advice before using tax-exempt organizations to advance his political goals.

"The money was designed to reimburse the committee for extra investigative costs resulting from Gingrich's misleading statements."

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The State Ethics Commission has charged Gov. Mark Sanford with breaking state ethics laws 37 times, including using state planes for family trips, spending campaign funds on a hunting trip and flying first class, instead of coach, while on state travel...The Ethics Commission charges allege:

- Sanford flew business or first class 18 times between 2005 and 2009 while on state business. Those trips included travel to Europe, Asia and South America. State law requires officials to choose the most economical fare unless there is an urgent reason to do otherwise.

- Sanford used state aircraft for personal travel nine times between 2005 and 2008, including a book signing, a birthday party for a contributor, a son's sporting event and a family getaway to Georgia.

- On 10 occasions, Sanford took money from his campaign account, donated by supporters, and improperly spent it on personal uses, including an Irish hunting trip and a GOP governors meeting in Miami. The money in question, a total of $2,940.68, was spent between 2006 and 2009.

he commission also cited a number of flights on state planes as personal, violating state law, including:

- A 2006 flight from North Myrtle Beach to Columbia, after which Sanford got a haircut

- A 2006 trip by Sanford and his family to Georgia from West Virginia for a "personal weekend"

- A 2007 flight from North Myrtle Beach to Columbia for Sanford to attend a son's sporting event

- A 2008 flight to Myrtle Beach - with his wife and a son - for the opening of the Hard Rock Park entertainment complex

The commission also charges that on 10 occasions, Sanford reimbursed himself for personal expenses out of campaign money.

These reimbursements violate state ethics law because they were not related to Sanford's campaign or duties as governor, the commission said.

Also, Sanford failed to provide receipts for the expenses. Ethics rules require a campaign to keep receipts dating back five years.

The expenses include $864.90 for a 2008 Republican governors meeting in Miami and a hunting trip to Dublin, Ireland.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

PS Mark Sanford is a REPUBLICAN.

Posted by: jKO2010 | November 16, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

kitchendragon50; all,

i find it "interesting" that the DIMocRATS here have all tried to post something bad about some/several Republicans BUT not even one of them has said that Charlie Rangel MUST LEAVE his position of trust in the HoR, even after he was found guilty of CORRUPTION. may i also remind everyone that "COLD CASH Jefferson" (DIMocRAT of LA) was defended by all the DIMocRATS, even after he was convicted for bribery, tax evasion & other felonies.

as i said earlier, DIMocRATS are HYPOCRITES & quite happy to keep "crooks", creeps & KLANSMEN in their party, as long as they always vote "the party line".
(fyi, BHO said, last year, that Robert "KKK" Byrd, DIMocRAT Senator of WV & a lifelong member/officer of the KU KLUX KLAN was "always a shining star of our party & a credit to our nation".)

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 16, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

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