Going After Charlie Rangel
THESE HAVE not been pleasant times for Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.). For the third time in as many months on Wednesday, the dean of the New York congressional delegation had to face the media to answer questions about questionable practices.
In July the New York Times revealed that a New York City developer let Mr. Rangel lease four apartments in a Harlem building at below-market rents. One of the apartments was used as a campaign office. That's a no-no under New York State law, which requires rent-stabilized apartments to be used for primary residences only. Mr. Rangel dumped the campaign office. Then came the revelation in The Post that Mr. Rangel was using his congressional stationery to request meetings with deep-pocketed New York powerbrokers to discuss a school of public service named after him in his district. House rules prohibit using stationery for solicitations. No, he didn't make outright requests for cash in those letters. But when a note arrives from the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, it's bound to get extra attention.
Given that Ways and Means is the all-powerful tax-writing committee, Mr. Rangel's latest date with the media was particularly embarrassing. He told the assembled reporters that he neglected to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income on a vacation home in the Dominican Republic -- income and property that had not been previously disclosed -- because language barriers kept him from obtaining financial information. Mr. Rangel's attorney estimated the congressman owes more than $10,000 for 2004 to 2006. An assessment for the remaining 17 years is forthcoming.
Mr. Rangel expressed regret. He called his latest trip-up "irresponsible." And to the Republicans who are calling on him to relinquish the Ways and Means chairmanship, he said, "I really don't believe that making mistakes means that you have to give up your career." With each troubling revelation, Mr. Rangel has called on the ethics committee to look into his actions. Its workload is piling up.