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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
March 9, 2010
2009 dispatched a reporter on Friday to a news teleconference regarding the recent legal problems Harlem-based U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel.

Representative Charles Rangel, the top Democrat responsible for tax laws in the U.S. Congress, was found "guilty" of accepting Caribbean junkets from a private corporation, an act that violates the House of Representatives' ethics rules.

However, most of the mainstream media organizations are slow to carry the news stories of Rangel's reign of corruption and even slower to investigate the allegations that seem to point to a career built on crime, corruption and political posturing.

On the same day that the House Ethics Committee ruled that Rangel's action was improper, he was attending a meeting with President Barack Obama and lawmakers from both parties at a health care summit.

While other members of the Congressional Black Caucus were under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for similar lobbyist-paid trips in 2007 and 2008, all were exonerated by the panel, according to a source on Capitol Hill.

His ethics violation should be cause for removal of Rangel from the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, but some believe he will not be forced to give up chairing that committee and he will not voluntarily step down.

Rangel told news reporters on Friday that he will not step down as chairman of the powerful House tax-writing committee after being admonished by an ethics panel for accepting the Caribbean trips. In fact, Rangel is blaming his staff for his ethics problems.


"Rangel is not the kind of person to give up easily. He's been a congressman representing a district in New York that includes Harlem and Washington Heights for 30 years and he possesses a reputation as a fighter," said political strategist Mike Baker.

Others were less kind in their remarks. For instance, a former New York City police detective claims Rangel was a Democrat Party hack in the Big Apple, who "carried the bags for the boys downtown."

"As a young detective, I had to straighten out Charlie [Rangel] while he was working as a defense attorney and ran errands for some of New York's more despicable characters," said former NYPD detective Sid Frances, owner of a Harlem-based security firm.

Ironically, Rangel achieved his chairmanship when he and other Democrats took control of the House in 2006 after using campaign slogans and talking-points that characterized Republicans as denizens of a "culture of corruption."

The House Ethics Committee ruled that the financing of the Caribbean junkets by private-sector firms was improper for all the lawmakers involved. However, they found that Rangel alone was aware a corporation that routinely lobbied Congress picked up the tab, according to a congressman who spoke with AP.

Congress will conduct additional ethics investigations of Rangel's finances and fundraising that aren't part of the Caribbean travel ethics violation. For example, another allegation Rangel faces is that he failed to pay an unspecified amount in federal taxes during the past five years on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

According to reports, he has owned the beachfront house at the Punta Cana resort and club since 1988, but never declared the $75,000 in rental income he has earned either on his tax returns or on his Congressional financial disclosure form.

When Mr. Rangel’s legal advisers first acknowledged the unreported income, during interviews with reporters, they said his accountants had determined that he would probably owe back taxes to the city and New York State, but not the federal government.

But later his lawyer, former-Bill Clinton staffer Lanny Davis, said that the accountants had since revised their calculations and determined that Mr. Rangel would owe “a modest amount” to the federal government for unpaid taxes over the last five years.

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Davis told the New York Times that Rep. Rangel was likely to owe both the state and the city a similar amount over the same period. The combined total of back taxes owed to the city, state and federal governments will probably be “several thousands of dollars."

"Imagine if the IRS treated everyone who evaded taxes they same way they treat these 'public servants' and their minions. It should outrage all Americans who struggle to pay their taxes that these politicians flagrantly break the laws citizens must obey," Baker said.

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However, most of the mainstream media organizations are slow to carry the news stories of Rangel's reign of corruption and even slower to investigate the allegations that seem to point to a career built on crime, corruption and political posturing.