Washington Post reporter Wil Haygood today examines the plight of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) since his Censure in early December. Haygood sat down with Rangel for two recent interviews, and reports Rangel’s “answers were full of contradictions that seem to defy easy explanation.” Also:
Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Elections Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee.
Haygood paints a picture of a bitter and confused politician who seems unable to accept the fact that his time has long passed:
While taking blame for what he termed “overzealousness” in fundraising, Rangel chided members of Congress who voted for censure instead of a less serious reprimand, howled about a double standard, vowed that this episode “is not over yet” and complained bitterly about the National Legal and Policy Center, a Falls Church-based organization that chases after public officials who may have ethics issues.
Rangel is right that this episode “is not over yet.” We are continuing our examination of his finances and relationships. Our pending Complaint with the Federal Election Commission, filed on November 29, alleges that Rangel illegally used almost $400,000 from his so-called leadership PAC to pay for his legal defense in the House ethics actions against him. In apparent response, Rangel established a separate legal defense fund, although his fundraising prowess is now vastly reduced.
There is much more. Although we welcomed the House Ethics Committee actions based on our research, the Committee did not go as far as it should have. For instance, it took no action on our September 16, 2009 Complaint alleging that Rangel did not report or disclose rental income from a six-unit Harlem brownstone that he owned for the years 1993 to 2001.
Nor did the Committee apparently seek to establish where the hundreds of thousand of dollars in assets and income came from that were left off Rangel’s financial disclosure forms. The amounts seem inconsistent with his salary as a Congressman. The fact that they were left off also creates suspicion as to their source. Reporters have not asked about it, and Rangel did not comment on it when he amended his filings in August of 2009.