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Rangel Deserves More Than A "Reprimand"

WASHINGTON - Common Cause is troubled to learn that the subcommittee investigating Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) has recommended only a “reprimand” for the 13 allegations aired publicly against him.

"A reprimand would publicly embarrass Congressman Rangel and forever blemish his record," said Bob Edgar, Common Cause’s president. "But these allegations, if proven, merit more than embarrassment. They should carry a real penalty – perhaps a fine and/or the permanent loss of committee chairmanships or assignments. A reprimand is what parents give when kids forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ It’s not what members of Congress should get when they break House rules or violate laws."

The charges against Rep. Rangel involve his alleged use of his office and his chairmanship of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee to solicit corporate donations to the City College of New York for creation of a Center for Public Service bearing his name. He also is charged with failing to report his campaign’s use of a rent-controlled apartment in New York and of failing to pay taxes on rental income from a Caribbean villa.

Mr. Rangel maintains his innocence and argues that any corporate gifts went not to him but to CCNY.

"This case illustrates the problems with a political fundraising system in which corporate executives gain access to members of Congress and their staffs by writing big checks – whether it is to a member’s campaign committee or his favorite charity," Edgar said. "We need to reform that system by passing the Fair Elections Now Act and financing political campaigns with a mix of small donations from individuals and Fair Elections funds drawn from a special, public treasury."

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy, reinventing an open, honest, and accountable government that works for the public interest, and empowering ordinary people to make their voices heard.



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