The charges against Charlie Rangel are now official. Yesterday, the House Ethics Committee laid out a string of embarrassing charges that show Rangel took advantage of his post to build monuments to himself, flouted the most obvious standards of propriety and ignored basic rules of ethics in strong-arming interests who came before his committee. From the NYT:
Ethics committee members appeared somber on Thursday, expressing fondness for Mr. Rangel even as they issued the stinging report, which states that Mr. Rangel’s “actions reflected poorly on the institution of the House and, thereby, brought discredit to the House.”
Mr. Rangel did not appear at the meeting on Thursday, but issued a written response denying “each and every allegation” and criticizing the committee’s report as “deeply flawed in its factual premises and legal theories.”
In the 40-page report, the committee said it substantiated the major charges that had been hanging over Mr. Rangel for two years: that he improperly used his office to solicit donations for a school to be named in his honor; failed to pay taxes on and report rental income from his Dominican villa; filed incomplete financial disclosure forms; and improperly accepted from a Manhattan developer rent-stabilized apartments, one of which he used as a campaign office.
But while those alleged infractions had been widely reported, the committee unearthed new details about Mr. Rangel’s conduct. The committee said Mr. Rangel not only reached out to corporate executives seeking contributions to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College, but he also personally sought donations from registered lobbyists whose corporations had business before Congress. In some cases, Mr. Rangel asked for contributions of as much as $30 million from businesses with issues before the Ways and Means Committee, of which he was the chairman until March.
Rangel brought this on himself, but his case is nevertheless a very sad one. He’s a genuine American hero, an ex-GI who showed real bravery in the Korean War. It’s tragic — worthy of Shakespeare — that he stayed in office so long that he came to think of himself as above the rules of conduct.
It’s past time for Charlie to resign.