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Rangel Has Earned Community Support

 Los Angeles Sentinel, Commentary, Yussuf J. Simmonds

LOS ANGELES - Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) is one of the most respected and powerful members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and despite having stepped down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, he remains steadfast in the efforts to clear his name and continue his work on behalf of his constituents.

He enjoys the support of his colleagues, including the members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) even though there appears to be a concerted effort by many House Republicans to expel him from Congress. They have launched an all-out media campaign to force Rangel to admit to ethical violations, as a part of the big election year ploy, to win back the House, and eventually the White House.

Last October, in a front-page story, a Washington-area newspaper ran an article headlined "GOP Sees Gain From Rangel Issue." The article said that the Republican leadership did not want to make Rangel into a sympathetic figure and are sensitive to accusations from African Americans that there is a GOP campaign to remove him from power. Since then, events have unfolded to validate that story, not only relative to Congressman Rangel, but also to other African American representatives.

Even though there were no formal charges lodged against the congressman, the rumblings began about the campaign to oust him. And it raised a disturbing question: 'Whatever happened to due process?' Even Members of Congress are entitled to due process. It is obvious that House Republicans and the national Republican Party are desperate to avoid the electoral disaster's they've suffered in the last two elections as they went from a majority in the House of Representatives to the minority. They saw that attacking Rangel, a key House player in pushing the President's agenda through Congress, as a strategic move to frustrate the Obama administration. The Republican plan was, and still is, simple: Damage Rangel, derail the Democratic program, and hopes that it gives them leverage in the November election.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), the chair of the CBC, issued the following statement relative to the congressman: "All Americans are entitled to a fair and due process, and that right extends to Congressman Rangel as well. Any rush to judgment to short-circuit the ongoing review of Congressman Rangel by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct will do a disservice to the well- established processes of the House of Representatives."

A close look at the Congressman's record and accomplishments will tell a different story than what the hawks in Congress are trying to do to Rangel. Even some of his colleagues on the Democratic side are quietly suggesting that he admit to unproven allegations in order to avoid a potentially disastrous election year ethics trial. Notwithstanding, like all other Americans, Congressman Rangel is innocent until proven guilty and he deserves the full support--especially of the Congress--in seeing to it that he has due process under the law.

As a veteran of 20 terms in the House, Congressman Rangel has established a distinguished record of service. He has been an effective chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; working with both sides of the aisle to find solutions to such issues as health care reform, social security, simplification of the tax code, Medicare, and economic recovery. Under his leadership, the Ways and Means Committee was the first committee in the US Congress to put out a comprehensive health reform bill.

Chairwoman Lee concluded her statement with: "Attempts by Republicans and Democrats to presume guilt before the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct completes its review of the facts, which are only known to them and Congressman Rangel, violates the core American principle of the presumption of innocence.

"There is a well-established, bipartisan congressional ethics process in place and that process must be respected. Congressman Rangel continues to be an important voice in the House of Representatives on a host of critical issues confronting our nation--from health care to creating jobs, and he deserves to be treated fairly."


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