Democrats Give Charlie Rangel Standing Ovation

John Hayward, Human Events, December 3, 2010

On November 16, 2006, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared, “This leadership will create the most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history.”

A prominent member of her caucus, Representative Charlie Rangel of New York, aggressively sold his political influence for money. He abused government resources, including House personnel and free postal privileges, to solicit campaign donations. He cheated on his taxes, failing to report some of his income. He filed “incomplete and inaccurate” financial disclosures.

Yesterday, December 2, 2010, after ethics hearings that lasted years and cost our heavily indebted government considerable amounts of time and money, the House of Representatives voted 333-79 to censure Rangel. Rangel expressed his contempt for these hearings by walking out of them. How much jail time will this felon receive? None at all. “Censure” means he just has to stand there and listen while the House expresses its displeasure. Even this ridiculously mild “penalty” was too much for 146 of his colleagues, who wanted to downgrade it to a quiet reprimand {snip}.

The Democrats then gave Rangel a standing ovation, causing numerous Republican campaign consultants to think about using the footage during the 2012 elections, and faint dead away.

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Rangel and some of his defenders characterized his tax cheating as a “mistake,” thus assuming their listeners are complete imbeciles. Rangel chaired the panel that writes tax laws. He under-reported his income by hundreds of thousands of dollars for a decade. He was eventually compelled to pay federal and state treasuries $16,000 in back taxes, with absolutely no penalty or interest. Republican John Carter of Texas introduced a bill called the “Rangel Rule” to extend this penalty-free privilege to all taxpayers in 2009, but of course it went nowhere.

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Rangel’s defenders, sadly including a number of Republicans, cite his Korean War military service as a reason to excuse his crimes. Rangel himself loudly makes this argument at every opportunity, He did it again during the House procedure yesterday, as well as once again violating House rules by shamelessly using photos of fallen veterans from New York City next to the door of his office as political props.

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