"[T]he House majority has made it clear that no matter what the
ethics probe produces, they will do nothing to remove Rangel
from his powerful chairmanship. Nancy Pelosi is encouraging the
culture of corruption in Washington to blossom."—ALG President Bill Wilson
October 7th, 2009, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today condemned members of the House for voting to refer a resolution that would have removed Congressman Charlie Rangel as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
"Once again, the Democrat-controlled House has voted to sweep outright corruption under the rug on behalf of a fellow party member who failed to report more than $1 million in outside income as required by House rules," Wilson said.
"The least Congress can do is not have Rangel serving as Chairman of a committee that deals with taxes while an 'ongoing' ethics probe into his undisclosed income is taking place," Wilson added.
The Resolution, proposed by Congressman John Carter, called for Rangel to be removed as Ways and Means Chairman until the Ethics Committee concludes its probe.
Instead, the House voted 246 to 153 to refer the resolution to the Ethics Committee. "A vote to refer the Rangel resolution to the Ethics Committee was a vote against the resolution, plain and simple," said Wilson.
Rangel is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, but Wilson stated that the committee may be deliberately stalling, writing in a letter last month to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, "[T]he Ethics Committee -- comprised of some of Mr. Rangel's most ardent apologists -- has clearly decided to turn its 'internal investigation' into an 'eternal investigation.' And justice delayed has long since become justice denied."
According CBS' Marcia Kramer, Rangel may have gone as far to "influence" members of the Ethics Committee to look the other way: "CBS 2 HD has discovered that since ethics probes began last year the 79-year-old congressman has given campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him."
The report continues, "Charlie's 'angels' on the committee include Congressmen Ben Chandler of Kentucky, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Peter Welch of Vermont. All have received donations from Rangel."
"The House Ethics Committee is a joke. And despite months of inquiry into known and blatant infractions of law and House rules, no action has been taken," Wilson said, comparing the delay to the speed that Congressman Joe Wilson had a resolution brought against him for shouting "You lie!" at Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress. On September 15th, the House voted 240-179 in a resolution against Congressman Wilson, just six days after the speech.
Wilson cited several transgressions that he said could have already been acted upon by the House at large:
1) failure to report over $1 million in outside income and $3 million in business transactions as required by the House,
2) failure to disclose at least $650,000 in assets he had previously failed to list on his House financial disclosure forms,
3) failure to disclose to the IRS or on his financial disclosure forms $75,000 in rental income for a beach villa in the Dominican Republic,
4) violation of state laws by claiming three primary residences and broke municipal laws by maintaining four rent-controlled apartments,
5) violation of House rules by using congressional letterhead to solicit donations for an education center bearing his name at City College of New York, and
6) delinquency in paying his property taxes on two New Jersey parcels and failure to report the sale of a $1.3 million brownstone.
"There was no reason why these repeated violations could not have been addressed today by the House," said Wilson
Americans for Limited Government recently a petition website, RangelOutNow.org, to encourage Attorney General Eric Holder to immediately investigate Rangel's "repeated violation of public disclosure laws… [and] exactly how Mr. Rangel came into at least $650,000 in undisclosed income, and to audit the extent of his income."
Wilson also called upon Holder to "prosecute Mr. Rangel to the fullest extent of the law for any and all infractions of the law."
Said Wilson, "This is completely upside down. The Ethics Committee is supposed to act on a non-partisan basis. But instead, it is stonewalling the conclusion of the Rangel investigation. And now the House majority has made it clear that no matter what the ethics probe produces, they will do nothing to remove Rangel from his powerful chairmanship. Nancy Pelosi is encouraging the culture of corruption in Washington to blossom."
ALG President Bill Wilson Letter to Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer, September 16th, 2009.
"The Man Who Knew Too Little," by Carter Clews, August 31st, 2009.