Yesterday Ol’ Charlie Rangel, a 20 term congressman and formerly the chair of the very powerful “Ways and Means” committee, was found guilty of 11 out of 13 ethics charges. Sounds like a big deal. It’s not, sadly.
Well, maybe to Charlie, it is. No doubt, other members of the House are “tut-tutting” about it, deeply impressed. I’m not. You shouldn’t be either. Charlie has suffered a loss of prestige, a diminution of his power, but he has really suffered no personal loss.
For way too long Ol’ Charlie has flouted House ethics rules. He even spent a large portion of PAC money for his defense (another violation). He showed no remorse, admitted no wrong and complained that he was treated unfairly. All this demonstrates a man who believes he is not subject to “the rules.”
What we’re about to find out is that “the rules” have no real teeth anyhow, at least in his case. Representative Rangel will get a reprimand from the House, maybe a fine (which he’ll never pay) and that will be the end of it.
Rangel is a case in point as to why the American public and specifically the electorate is so fed up with our federal government. Senator Harry Reid arrives in Washington with nothing but the change in his pockets and is now a multimillionaire. Has he been audited? Charlie Rangel is reluctantly charged and prosecuted by the members of his own team. They take two years to do it, find him “guilty,” but ultimately, it will be meaningless. His assets won’t be seized, he won’t lose his government pension or other benefits. He’ll get a reprimand. I guess that’s like a nasty letter in your personnel file. Make no mistake, these two are not alone in their corruption.
We hope this last election cycle has put these public servants on notice to get their house in order. I’d like to say I was more hopeful.