Back-tax mistakes have Republicans out for blood
Thanks to Charles Rangel, Republicans might be receiving an early Christmas gift. Last July, The New York Times dropped a bomb on the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee by revealing that a New York City developer coordinated a deal so that Rangel could lease four apartments below market value in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. One of the apartments was used as a campaign office, which is against New York state law.
In the last few weeks, Rangel has admitted that he neglected to pay $75,000 in rental income on a beach house he owns in the Dominican Republic, citing that his business partners there often spoke in Spanish, causing much confusion. Now, Rangel’s camp has hired a forensic accountant to probe the last 20 years of the 78-year-old congressman’s finances and address the findings with the House Ethics Committee. So far, they’ve uncovered discrepancies with the sale of another home he once owned in Washington, D.C. and inconsistencies with entries for several investment funds.
All of this from the man in charge of the committee that dictates the country’s tax laws. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been urged by the Republican Party to remove Rangel as Chairman. Although Rangel acknowledges his mistakes, he doesn’t believe they are grave enough that he should have to sacrifice his career.
In a prepared statement, Rangel told the Associated Press, “I want to assure you that my love of my country, my own personal morals, my devotion to the Congress of the United States prevent me from doing anything that would damage the reputation of this great body. In addition, as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, I am and should be held to a higher standard.”
One of the reasons for all the mix-up might be closer to home than he realized. This week, Rangel withdrew a petition to divorce his wife of more than 40 years, Alma Rangel, but has said her mishandling of his finances might also be the reason appropriate taxes weren’t paid on his Dominican Republic villa.
Serving his 19th term in Congress, Rangel represents Harlem and other parts of Manhattan. In the last ten years, Rangel has written tax laws directly responsible for financing 90 percent of the affordable housing built in the United States. He is a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his service in the Korean War. But all of these achievements and accolades could be marred if the ethics committee finds that he has inappropriately mismanaged and intentionally undocumented his own financial handlings.
In November, district voters will make the decision whether or not to elect Rangel to return for his 20th term in Congress.