Thursday, December 04, 2008

Ditch Charlie

From NY

Are congressional Democrats truly committed to dealing with the economic and fiscal policy challenges they face next year?

The answer will be seen in how they address their increasingly problematic Charlie Rangel situation.

Scarcely a day goes by without yet another ethical impropriety coming to light regarding the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Last Wednesday, the DC-based National Legal and Policy Center urged the House Ethics Committee to expand its ongoing Rangel probe to include the recent revelation that he took a "homestead" tax deduction meant for year-round DC residents - though he legally resides in New York.

Tuesday, The New York Times delved into the relationship between Rangel and oil-drilling businessman Eugene Isenberg - who made a $1 million pledge toward building Rangel's school for public service at City College of New York. Rangel later preserved a controversial offshore tax loophole that saved Isenberg's company, Nabors, millions.

Rangel's previous ethical woes, though troubling, were largely personal: not paying taxes on property in the Caribbean; using one of four rent-stabilized apartments as a campaign office; improperly storing a car in a House parking garage.

The Isenberg-Nabors deal is, potentially, far more serious: It reeks of a quid pro quo between Rangel's official duties and fund-raising for his personal project.

The Times reported that Rangel held meetings the same day, at the same hotel, with Isenberg to discuss the CCNY project and then with Nabors' chief lobbyist on the tax loophole.

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