In a letter to the editor, House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel responds today to the Wall Street Journal’s Monday editorial. He writes:
Your July 27 editorial “Morality and Charlie Rangel’s Taxes” insulted me in an attempt to undermine my work on health-care reform legislation. But your slurs can’t change the fact that the Ways and Means Committee, which I chair, has already succeeded in negotiating and passing its portion of the health-care bill without a hint of the rancor you’ve resorted to in your mean-spirited editorial attack. (emphasis ours)
Rangel’s indignation in the wake of his own admissions of failing to pay his taxes is the clearest evidence yet that he is divorced from political reality, and will become an increasing liability for Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama.
He whines on:
Your editorial said more about your journalistic practices than it did about the issues under investigation in the ethics committee. After listing the so-called “exhibits” against me, your editorial went on to say, shamelessly: “All of this has previously appeared in print in one place or another, and we salute the reporters who did the leg work.” Since when has it been the practice of a major daily newspaper like The Wall Street Journal to rely on the reporting of journalists “in one place or another” as the basis of a searing attack on the character of a public official?
As the editorial points out, Rangel at first denied that he was receiving unreported income, only to admit doing so in the face of the press reports he belittles today.
Actually, the media has gone easy on Rangel by reporting as fact his claim that he failed to report or disclose only $75,000 in rental income from his Dominican Republic beach house. As we have alleged in a Complaint to the IRS, the total is almost certainly much higher.
How easy it was in writing your editorial to ignore the fact that it was me who first called for a full bipartisan ethics investigation and report to Congress. That review has been ongoing for several months and I have answered every question from my peers on the committee and their staffs.
It was indeed Rangel who called for an Ethics Committee investigation. It is a nice safe venue for corrupt members of Congress to be “investigated” so they can be “exonerated” or slapped on the wrist. Let’s remember it was corrupt Alan Mollohan (D-WV) who was the ranking Democrat on the committee until he had to resign in the wake of allegations by NLPC. Going back some years, Mollohan’s mentor John Murtha bragged on the FBI’s Abscam sting tapes that he was on the Ethics Committee, implying that it was good cover for unethical activity.
Despite his girth, Rangel gets up on his high horse:
Public officials should abide by a higher standard of the law and the rules set down by Congress. But I also believe that the press, especially those reputed to be newspapers of record, such as yours, should abide by a minimal standard that requires checking the facts.
When this is all over, The Wall Street Journal will have to answer for the harm it has done—not to me, but to its own reputation and to the practice of journalism.
Nowhere in Rangel’s letter does he take issue with the facts in the editorial, the original source of which is NLPC. If he is not a tax cheat, he should explain where we are wrong. A hissy fit is an unconvincing substitute.