Tax Cheat Charlie Rangel: The Punishment Should Fit the Crime

Jenny Erikson

Jenny Erikson
Jenny Erikson
Charlie Rangel is a member of the House of Representatives. He’s a fairly high-ranking one in fact; until last March he was the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. That’s the committee that writes our tax laws, by the way.

On Tuesday, Congressman Rangel was found guilty on 11 of 13 charges of rules violations. Some of the charges were using House stationery to solicit money for a pet project, soliciting donors for said project with interests before the Ways and Means Committee, failing to report $600,000 in assets, and not paying taxes on the rental income from his property in the Dominican Republic.

Rangel claimed to be the victim of “good faith mistakes.”

Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., when the Democrats took over Congress as the majority party in 2006. So it stands to reason that once Charlie Rangel’s selfish and devious acts came to light, they would deal with him appropriately. After all, congressmen that trade favors for their own financial gain belong in jail (cough, cough, Duke Cunningham).

On Thursday, the House ethics committee recommended that Rangel be censured for his misdeeds. This means that he will get a public rebuke in front of his congressional peers. Additionally, he will be required to pay any back-taxes owed to the government.

I have a very hard time taking Democrats in power seriously after this. They said they wanted an ethical and transparent government. Yet when faced with a smarmy tax-cheat and bribe-taker, they issue him a public reprimand? This isn’t just any old tax-cheat either … this tax-cheat, until recently, was the head of the committee that writes our tax laws. How can we possibly trust a government that raises taxes (for the common good), but then doesn’t pay their own?

Even if Rangel’s ethics violations were -- as he says -- good faith mistakes, he should still be removed from office. He’s either incredibly unethical, or he’s too incompetent to do the job.


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