November 28, 2020         
Michaels is Calling On #DifferenceMakers to Creatively Spread Holiday Cheer   •   Comcast RISE Awards Over 700 Black-Owned, Small Businesses with Marketing and Technology Resources and Makeovers   •   COVID-19 Recovery Research Program launched   •   Advancing Equity, Improving Lives: Minister Bardish Chagger Launches LGBTQ2 Survey and Engagement on Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan   •   COVID-19 Can Be Beat - Please Don't Shut Down All Youth Activities Indiscriminately   •   Majority of Americans Expect to Buy Gifts This Holiday Season Despite Tumultuous Year, but Many Cut From the Gift List According   •   Satmar Cancels Grand Annual Dinner   •   DISH Network Puts Consumers at Risk of Losing Network and Local Community Programming During Pandemic   •   More support to advance reform of services for Indigenous children and families   •   Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company Reveals Details of Hall Of Trivia on HQ App   •   “KISS THE GROUND” Wins Its 25th Film Festival Award to Date   •   Jamaican Boy's Post-Dog Attack Procedures Highlight the Less Well-Known Side of a Plastic Surgeon's Work, says Dr. J Plastic Sur   •   Frontier Alliance International Announces a Deeper Journey Through the Book of Revelation With a Number of Free Multimedia Resou   •   realme's 50M Sales Achievement Attracts Positive Comments From Industry Leaders Anticipating Its Future   •   Enough is Enough: Ontario Engineering Community Committed to Uprooting Systematic Biases   •   Vehicle Retail Sales Decline due to Quirky Sales Calendar; When Adjusted for Selling Days, Retail Sales Stable   •   Afiya Bennett Makes Stunning Appearance in L'officiel Brasil in Honor of Black Awareness Day in Brasil   •   Because Apes Are Hairy Too, MANSCAPED™ Supports the San Diego Zoo!   •   iHeartMedia and Podimo Partner to Translate and Adapt Widely Popular Podcasts For Listeners Globally   •   Government of Canada COVID-19 Update for Indigenous Peoples and communities
Bookmark and Share

Rangel Got What He Had Coming, But Others In Congress Won't

Commentary by Earl Ofari Hutchinson

 

WASHINGTON- Politics does, indeed, make strange bedfellows. How else to characterize one of Congress’s loudest, most outspoken ultraconservatives, Rep. Peter King of New York, protesting the House vote to censure Harlem congressman Charles Rangel, an African-American, a Democrat, and a longtime paragon of liberalism?

Of course, King’s defense of Rangel had nothing to do with political affection, identification, outrage over his treatment, or even fear that the censure vote could set a dangerous precedent. No, the point was to ensure that the corruption spotlight shone brightly on the Democrats. That’s exactly what’s happened.

On the one hand, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for Rangel. He didn’t just flaunt the rules—he mocked them. As a longtime member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and for the last four years its chairman, Rangel enjoys enormous power over tax policy issues. Yet he blatantly failed to pay taxes on his own property for several years. In his half-hearted pleas for mercy, even Rangel repeatedly acknowledged that he had made “serious mistakes.” After the imbroglio broke, speculation was rampant about what might happen to him. Rangel refused a deal. He won reelection to a 21st term, so there was not much chance that he’d be expelled. When the House Ethics Committee found him guilty, by a 9-to-1 vote, of 11 violations of House rules, censure became a virtual certainty. And in fact, this week he became the first member of Congress to be censured in more than a quarter century.

Now Rangel and, to a lesser extent, California Rep. Maxine Waters are firmly imprinted in the media and public mind as the poster pair for congressional corruption. They’re black, high-profile, high-ranking Democrats, and they’re outspoken. This instantly made them inviting targets. Yet the media crucifixion of Rangel also absolves Congress from taking any real action against other of its worst offenders.

There are dozens of other lawmakers not named Rangel who are just as deserving, if not more so, of being thrust onto the political hot seat. In October 2009, for example, 27 other members of Congress were named as being under investigation for possible ethics violations. When a congressional staffer leaked a summary of the Ethics Committee’s preliminary report, the panel made it clear that the investigations were merely preliminary and the suspected violators had not been formally charged. But the checklist of allegations was far from petty: sweetheart arrangements with lobbyists, illicit campaign and finance dealings, questionable receipt of gifts, failure to disclose said gifts and other property, and questions about the reporting of taxes.

Beyond the seriousness of Rangel’s offenses, there are two glaring reasons why the other congressmen and women supposedly under investigation have escaped the same level of scrutiny. Most of the other suspected violators aren’t as well known as Rangel. And they lack his seniority and power. Only a handful on the list are Republicans, so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership couldn’t use their names to stoke public fury about alleged GOP misdeeds, whereas the other Democrats under suspicion lack Rangel’s visibility, so going after them offered the party little advantage on the P.R. front.

Making an example of Rangel, on the other hand, allows Pelosi and the Ethics Committee to self-righteously claim that the ethics rules work, that the committee is doing its job, and that House Democrats can police their own. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the Democrat who chaired the House Ethics Committee (and a close friend of Pelosi’s), boasted that censuring Rangel proves that Congress will keep its promise to hold its members to a higher standard of ethics.

Those are noble words. But the rule of thumb in Congress has long been that you do the deals, take the money, and bend and twist the rules—just not in a way that is so flagrant and outrageous that it draws media and public attention. And most definitely not when elections are looming and Republicans can use charges of corruption to hammer Democrats or—as happened in 2006—vice versa.

Rangel has been brought low. The same may happen to Waters, who faces an even more hostile, GOP-controlled Congress whenshe returns to face the music next year.

But don’t expect to see any otherson the congressional rogue’s list being held to task. Unless, of course, their comeuppance carries major political benefits.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. 


STORY TAGS: BLACK, AFRICAN AMERICAN, MINORITY, CIVIL RIGHTS, DISCRIMINATION, RACISM, , RACIAL EQUALITY, BIAS, EQUALITY, culture



Back to top
| Back to home page
Video

White House Live Stream
LIVE VIDEO EVERY SATURDAY
Breaking News
alsharpton Rev. Al Sharpton
9 to 11 am EST
jjackson Rev. Jesse Jackson
10 to noon CST


Video

LIVE BROADCASTS
Sounds Make the News ®
WAOK-Urban
Atlanta - WAOK-Urban
KPFA-Progressive
Berkley / San Francisco - KPFA-Progressive
WVON-Urban
Chicago - WVON-Urban
KJLH - Urban
Los Angeles - KJLH - Urban
WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
New York - WKDM-Mandarin Chinese
WADO-Spanish
New York - WADO-Spanish
WBAI - Progressive
New York - WBAI - Progressive
WOL-Urban
Washington - WOL-Urban

Listen to United Natiosns News