Staten Island Republican Congressman Michael Grimm is said to be pleading guilty to one count of tax fraud sometime on Tuesday. Almost immediately Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demanded that Speaker Boehner should call for Grimm to resign.
“Now that the election is over, Congressman Grimm is finally admitting the truth to his constituents,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Clearly, Speaker Boehner must insist that Congressman Grimm resign immediately.”
Pelosi is not wrong; there should be no place for lawbreakers in Congress. However, before Boehner forces Grimm back over the Outer Bridge Crossing and back to Staten Island, Pelosi needs to clean up her mess, New York Democrat Charlie Rangel.
Charlie Rangel has a more “impressive” list of ethics violations than anyone else in Congress.
Perhaps his most famous act of illegality during his congressional tenure was in regards to a rental income Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. In 2009 the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously low. In 2004 and 2005, he reported no more than $5,000, and in 2006 and 2007 no income at all from the property.
Mr. Rangel eventually admitted having failed to report rental income of $75,000 over the years. First he blamed his wife for the oversight because he said she was supposed to be managing the property. Then he blamed the language barrier. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” Mr. Rangel explained.
That was just one ethics violation in Rep. Rangel’s long record:
- He was discovered taking a tax break for people whose primary residence was in Washington DC, but if his primary residence was in DC he couldn’t be congressman representing NYC. And besides, he was occupying four rent controlled controlled apartments in New York, the rule is you don’t qualify for rent control unless the apartment is your primary residence. That is why he got in trouble for using one of the apartments as his office.
- There was the $1.95 million, federal earmark funded Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service this one was legal but just as smelly.
- He misused his congressional office to fund raise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for a donation to his vanity Charles B. Rangel center.
- Then there was the investigation of the NY Congressman, revolving around a Caribbean boondoggle.
- Once the ethics investigation began Rangel gave campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him.
Then there is the matter of his financial disclosure form. Lets just say it had some mistakes also:
In April 2014 the NY Daily News reported the FEC was accusing, Rep. Charlie Rangel of breaking campaign rules
Rep. Charles Rangel’s reelection campaign accepted $6,700 in contributions over legal limits, the Federal Election Commission charged.
One of the donors who gave too much: Donald Harty, a big-time fast food franchisee who owned a KFC/Taco Bell that was infamously shut down in 2007 after TV cameras captured a swarm of rats running around inside.
He gave $3,600 for Rangel’s Democratic primary campaign — $1,000 over the limit for individual donors.
Also giving more than the limit was the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Rangel drew scrutiny while chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for advancing legislation that would benefit such trusts while pocketing donations from the group.
The other donations came from the Oneida Indian Nation and Gerald Cassidy, according to the FEC notice, which was sent last week.
Rangel campaign officials said they’ve refunded some of the contributions and shifted others to a general election account to comply with the law. They characterized the FEC notice as routine.
Even more recently Rangel got caught not hiding another boondoggle, as reported by the National Journal this past June:
The 84-year-old New York Democrat joined a 10-lawmaker delegation from the Congressional Black Caucus for a weeklong China trip last August. Seven of the other lawmakers on the trip listed it on their annual financial-disclosure forms, made public earlier this month. The two other attendees, Reps. Gregory Meeks and Sheila Jackson Lee, have not yet filed their reports, after asking for extensions. Only Rangel has failed to report the trip.
The NY Daily News asked Rangel’s office about the report:
Rangel spokeswoman Hannah Kim said Rangel asked his accountants to immediately amend his financial disclosure form to report the trip after National Journal first reported his failure to report the trip Thursday.
Rangel was censured on the House floor in December 2010 after the ethics panel found him guilty of 11 charges related to his conduct outside the Capitol. The vote against him was a lopsided 333-79 (that might have been the last bi-partisan vote in the House).
I am not trying to defend Michael Grimm, but if Congress was a mafia movie, Michael Grimm would be a street punk; Charlie Rangel would be a Godfather. And if Pelosi want’s to talk booting someone from Congress, Rangel should be first on line.