So, remember how I expressed my abject disappointment with Rep. Charlie Rangel? Turns out, I wasn’t alone with the indictments.
After a two-year investigation, a House ethics subcommittee found former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rangel guilty of 11 ethics violations. The findings will be sent to the full committee, who will make a recommendation to the House regarding Rangel’s punishment. Though not entirely likely for Rangel, the last time an ethics committee came down this hard was back in 2002 when former House Rep. James Traficant Jr. was sentenced to eight years in prison for bribery, tax evasion and racketeering. Rangel’s storied career in Congress might earn him a few points, but I wouldn’t shed a tear if the book is thrown at him.
Since the initial charges were made, Rangel hasn’t exactly done much to curry sympathy with. And after the episode a few weeks ago when he quite literally walked out of hearing with the a subcommittee lawyer, I think I was pretty done with him. But I suppose I’ve been upset with him for several reasons. One, there is the obvious greed and deceitfulness this man has exuded. He betrayed an entire constituency who placed enough trust in him to [foolishly, in my opinion] give him numerous terms in the House. He tried to act as if he was above the law and beyond reproach. Not a good look.
But then, there is the not-so-openly-discussed notion that black people in certain positions of authority and responsibility (especially in politics, but not limited to this) simply are not afforded the same luxuries as their white counterparts. For every person who says that Rangel did nothing that other politicians haven’t been doing for years, I respond by reminding them that for years African Americans have been required to work just a little harder, be just a little smarter, and have our noses just a little cleaner. Rangel clearly missed that part of the lecture.
It’s unfortunate that a lion in the House is meeting the end of his political career this way. But given all the shennanigans he’s pulled, it’s quite appropriate.