Unbelievable. Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), accused of a stunning array of corruption charges, involving lots and lots of money gained through illicit means (tax evasion, unreported income, unjustified benefits, and whatnot), showed up for his ethics hearing yesterday...
Rangel has had literally months to prepare his defense. He managed to get the hearing postponed until after his re-election (he's already served 40 years in the House), and had a pretty decent legal team lined up. Then it turned out that he'd been paying his legal team with money from his Political Action Committee -- yet another ethics violation.
So his team quit (or Rangel let them go -- it's a little ambiguous), and Rangel had to go explain why he'd not bothered to report the rental income from his Caribbean beach house, how he scored four rent-controlled apartments in one building in New York, and a scad of other improprieties.
But Rangel is entitled to representation, so he decided to not bother to stick around after showing up and whining briefly.
There's an old saying that "justice delayed is justice denied," but in this case I'd like to see Rangel granted even more time to prepare for his defense. Let's push his hearing back for another 60 days or so.
When the Republicans take over Congress. Let their first order of business be to give Rangel his fair trial, and then expel him.
Rangel has pretty much two chances to keep his seat. The first is to get this whole matter wrapped up during the lame duck session, when he can count on the Democratic leadership of the House to give him a slap on the wrist. (They've certainly been content to turn a blind eye to Democratic corruption thus far, and there's no reason to expect them to change any time soon.) The other is to play the race card at the incoming Republican leadership -- and that card is a debit card on a severely overdrawn account.
So Good Time Charlie Rangel's got the blues. Well, I've got just the cure -- a couple months of bedrest and relaxation, followed by a long-overdue retirement.
Poor Charlie never learned the old lesson: pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.