Friday, February 26, 2010

Sorry Charlie

Like the tuna of the same name, it is time to throw Charlie Rangel back-a too long tenure has blinded him to observing even the most minimal ethical standards. And now, a House that observes ethics mostly in their breach, has admonished the veteran law maker for the least serious of his transgressions.

As the NY Times reports: "The House ethics committee said on Thursday that it had admonished Representative Charles B. Rangel for violating Congressional gift rules by accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. But the ethics panel, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, did not issue findings in its continuing inquiries into more serious matters concerning Mr. Rangel’s fund-raising, his failure to pay federal taxes on rental income from a Dominican villa, and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments provided by a Manhattan real estate developer."

It wasn't a good day for Harlem politicians-and the Republicans, who ritualistically called for Speaker Pelosi to remove Rangel from the chair of the powerful Ways and Means committee, should only hope she doesn't-because Rangel provides the opposition wit a wonderful foil in its effort to regain control of the majority. After all, the Dems rose to power running against the corruption of their predecessors-and solemnly promising to do better.

As Pelosi once famously said: "Our goal is to restore accountability, honesty and openness at all levels of government. To do so, we will create and enforce rules that demand the highest ethics from every public servant, sever unethical ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, and establish clear standards that prevent the trading of official business for gifts." (Nancy Pelosi’s “A New Direction for America,” Page 21)."

So much for political promises. The real question, however, is whether or not the eighty year old Rangel will even run for re-election. While he and Governor Paterson come from the same Harlem district, no one ever accused the wily Rangel of incompetence. Still, whether venal or bumbling, the voters of Harlem can sure use some new blood to better represent their interests.