On the House floor tonight, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) again asserted that he did not personally gain from the acts of which he is accused, notwithstanding the fact that he failed to report, or pay taxes on, rental income received from his Dominican Republic beach house. Rangel seems to believe that if you repeatedly say something, it becomes true, no matter how absurd.
After we exposed this tax evasion, we took an even closer look at Rangel’s finances and history. In September 2009, we filed a Complaint with the Ethics Committee alleging that Rangel hid more income from a six-unit brownstone apartment building in Harlem. We have also assembled other information that we have not made public painting a picture of a hustler who has cut corners his entire career.
Rangel turned the microphone over to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) who referenced Ethics Committee staff director Blake Chisam who said at Rangel’s ethics trial that Rangel was “sloppy” and that he saw “no evidence of corruption.” Chisam is hardly an independent investigator. (He also has had his own financial problems.) He works for Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who was handpicked by Nancy Pelosi who has defended Rangel throughout this process. The fact that even the Chisams of the world have to support censure speaks to the seriousness of the charges.
Scott pointed to former Rep. George Hansen (R-ID) who also left information off his financial disclosure forms. Scott did not mention that Hansen went to prison far omissions far less extensive than Rangel’s. Other Rangel apologists made reference to former Rep. Tom DeLay, correctly noting that DeLay was never censured by the House. DeLay now faces prison time, prompting the question of why Rangel does not face the same.
This notion that Rangel is somehow being subjected to a harsher penalty than past violators of House rules is just plain wrong. Rangel left off hundreds of thousands in assets and income from his financial disclosure forms for a period of years, representing the most egregious violation of disclosure requirements in the history of Congress. It was not only a violation of House Rules but also a criminal violation of the False Statements Act.
And Rangel has never explained where he got all that money that he did not disclose.