NRCC - Democrat Dirty Laundry: Rangel Rallies Taxpayer Resources to Prop Up Personal Legacy

It Begins to Blur the Lines Between Whether a Quid Pro Quo is Implied By This or Not’
Dems Fed Voters Hollow Promise for Earmark Reform on Campaign Trail

“Upon taking control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, Democrats vowed…to require lawmakers to disclose their requests and to certify that money they are requesting does not benefit them.” (Washington Post, 5/24/07)

Rangel Steers Taxpayer Dollars to Erect “Monument to Me”

“House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel is soliciting donations from corporations with business interests before his panel, hoping to raise $30 million for a new academic center that will house his papers when he retires.

“The New York Democrat has penned letters on congressional stationery and has sought meetings to ask for corporate and foundation contributions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York, a project that caused controversy last year when he won a $1.9 million congressional earmark to help start it. Republican critics dubbed the project Rangel's ‘Monument to Me.’”

“Ethics experts and government watchdogs say it is troubling that one of the nation's most powerful lawmakers would seek money from businesses that have interests before the committee he leads. Rangel's panel has broad jurisdiction over tax policy, trade, Social Security and Medicare.

“More generally, many say it is a bad idea to name a facility after an incumbent politician who might be tempted to channel public money to it rather than to more worthy causes.

“‘I think that he has crossed the line,’ said F. Christopher Arterton, dean of George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management. ‘Charlie Rangel is a prominent public servant and may deserve a center at City College. . . . But I think one has to be careful about how one raises the money for that. The danger is that it begins to blur the lines between whether a quid pro quo is implied by this or not.’

“Steve Ellis, vice president of the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense, said: ‘People in positions of power have to be very conscious of the coercive effect of their requests.’”

“From the center's earliest stages, Rangel has used his influence to help. In 2005, he wrote an appeal on congressional stationery to about 100 foundations, saying the project ‘will allow me to locate the inspirational aspects of my legacy in my home Harlem community.’

“Soon, the Ford Foundation committed $1 million and also held a gathering with other foundations on Jan. 29, 2007.” (Washington Post, 7/15/08)