March 3, 2010

Rangel steps down for now

How the mighty have fallen:

New York Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel stepped down from his post atop the powerful tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee today pending the completion of several ethics investigations into his conduct.

The pending ethics investigations include his role in obtaining four rent-controlled apartments in New York City, using his office to raise money for the Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York and a failure to disclose rental income from a Dominican Republic apartment. All these follow his admonishment last week for accepting corporate-funded trips to the Caribbean.

He has only agreed to step down temporarily, until the pending investigations are complete. He no doubt assumes he will be vindicated and hopes to re-gain his position as Chair eventually.

While he should have stepped down months ago, this is a step in the right direction. Being in charge of the tax-writing committee is a huge responsibility with enormous power and the People need to trust that the chairman is both honest and ethical. With these investigations, that trust has been damaged if not entirely lost.