About a year ago I had heard an interesting theory as to why Congressman Charlie Rangel was not likely to face an ethics investigation in the US Congress for his ever-growing list of questionable, possible un-ethical (and possibly illegal) activity. This came from a lobbyist and former Capital Hill staffer.
As it was, the Congressional Black Caucus was already pissed over Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi doing nothing to protect Former Congressman William Jefferson, who had hid $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer.
Going after Congressman Rangel, would result in a second member of the Congressional Black Caucus turning out to be crooks. The problem for Mrs. Pelosi is that the Congressional Black Caucus might have a problem with Congressman Rangel being investigated while other White Congressmen continue to be protected by the speaker. The most obvious example was her friend Congressman Murtha who had, among other questionable activity, connections to Lobbyist firm PMA which is currently being investigated by the FBI. But he never faced an Ethics investigation by Congress.
So it is funny to see that soon after Murtha's death, Congress finally decides to move forward with charges against Congressman Rangel. As they say, 'I question the timing'. After all, they waited years before deciding to charge him...
I was also told that many members of the Congressional Black Caucus has been behaving unethically, violating rules if not outright breaking the law, especially in terms of receiving 'gifts'. as part of being the party in power. I guess time will tell.
Update: 26 July 2010
The Wall Street Journal gives a summary of what Congressman Rangel has been up to:
Allegations include Mr. Rangel's failure to report assets and income totaling at least a half-million dollars that, when he "amended" his reporting last year, doubled his net worth; his use of four rent-stabilized apartments in New York's tony Lenox Terrace complex, including one that he used as a campaign office; concealing taxable rental income from his Dominican Republic beachfront villa at the Punta Cana Yacht Club; and using his official Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. - WSJ
Also, don't forget that he illegally parked a car for years in the House of Representative's garage as well as claimed that he was a DC resident in order to take advantage of a tax break:
Who knows what else he has been up to...City officials said Rangel, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, got the tax break from at least 1995 until 2000, amounting to $288 per year, said Natalie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Office of Tax and Revenue. Officials yesterday continued researching whether the break covered a longer period.The exemption is designed as a break for people who buy a home in the District and use it as a primary residence. But Rangel always has maintained his primary residence in New York, making him ineligible. - Washington Post