Rangel's Removal from Ways and Means Chairmanship Sparks Black Conservative Response
Washington, D.C.: Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are commenting on the announcement by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) that he will at least temporarily step down from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Bishop Council Nedd II: "If even just for now, Rangel stepping aside will help restore some public confidence in the idea that Congress can police itself. The question remains why it took so long to do the right thing. Rangel should actually resign from Congress entirely. It's been clear thus far that he hasn't had an appreciation of the gravity of his situation, and stepping back from it all is likely the only way he can truly realize the magnitude of the mess he's placed himself and his colleagues." (Bishop Council Nedd II is the bishop of the Chesapeake and the Northeast for the Episcopal Missionary Church and a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. Nedd is the author of the New Visions Commentary "Rangel Ethics Mess Feels Like History Repeating Itself," which can be found at http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVNeddRangel91008.html)
Deneen Borelli: "Because of the serious allegations surrounding Rangel's unethical behavior, the question of whether or not he should step down has gone on far too long. Unfortunately, elected officials such as Charlie Rangel have operated under a sense of entitlement and represented their interests and not those of their constituents. During his reign, Rangel has profited while his constituents in Harlem, NY have suffered." (Deneen Borelli is a full-time fellow with the Project 21 black leadership network.)
R. Dozier Gray: "What does Charlie Rangel need to do to incur the wrath of Speaker Pelosi? Rob a bank? Hold Barbara Streisand for ransom? Pelosi assumed her leadership position saying she would clean up the ethical mess in Congress, but she's been remarkably lenient on Rangel. And it's not just him. There are a number of ethical lapses that seem to be brushed under the rug. This is hypocritical." (R. Dozier Gray is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network.)
The House Committee on Official Standards recently completed a report that found Rangel had improperly accepted trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. Information about Rangel's trips was provided to the committee by the National Legal and Policy Center.
Up until the announcement, Rangel was publicly steadfast in his intention to remain in his leadership post and appeared to have the support of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). As chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he exerts vast control on the writing of the nation's tax laws.
Rangel stands accused of several other ethical infractions including unreported rental income from a vacation home, an undervalued property in his wife's name and potential abuses of his authority related to fundraising, earmarks and gifts.
Rangel was elected to House in 1970, replacing Adam Clayton Powell. Powell had similarly faced ethical problems during his congressional tenure, including questionable travel to Florida. Powell was stripped of his committee chairmanship, expelled from Congress and eventually defeated by Rangel.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (www.nationalcenter.org).