The NY Times lays out the case:
Representative Charles B. Rangel has helped raise $11 million for a City College of New York school of public service to be named in his honor. In recent months, as questions have emerged about his fund-raising, he has insisted that he has kept his efforts to attract donors scrupulously separate from his official duties in Congress.
But Congressional records and interviews show that Mr. Rangel was instrumental in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company last year, while at the same time its chief executive was pledging $1 million to the project, the Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at C.C.N.Y.
The company, Nabors Industries, was one of four corporations based in the United States that were widely criticized in 2002 and 2003 for opening offices in the Caribbean to reduce their federal tax payments. Mr. Rangel was among dozens of representatives from both parties who bitterly opposed those offshore moves and, in 2004, pushed unsuccessfully for legislation to make the companies pay more tax.
But in 2007, when the United States Senate tried to crack down on the companies, Mr. Rangel, who had recently been sworn in as House Ways and Means chairman, fought to protect them. The tax shelter for the four companies was preserved, saving Nabors an estimated tens of millions of dollars annually and depriving the federal treasury of $1.1 billion in revenues over a decade, according to a Congressional analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.
Rep. Rangel sure has had his issues of late. And while you always have to be careful about what is being chummed up about someone, if this had been Tom DeLay, and not Charlie Rangel, I know what people would be saying.
Let me be the first to say it:
It’s time for Charlie to go.
I’m not going to be careful at all. If this is true:
then he needs to be kicked off Ways and Means at a minimum. I’d go for resigning from the House entirely, but I doubt that’ll happen unless criminal charges get filed. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting the money directly or if it’s going to some legacy charity you’ve set up – a bribe is a bribe. And if you’re working with companies to game the system to deprive taxpayers of money, you’re part of the problem.
I don’ t know if any criminal charges are involved here (frankly, from what I heard of the Stevens case, criminal charges are incredibly hard to get in these kinds of cases and Stevens was basically an idiot), but it doesn’t matter. Rangel should step down.
Dennis - SGMM
This stinks. I looked up Nabors Industries and they are, indeed, headquartered in Bermuda so Rangel does not have the excuse that he was helping a constituent business. Pelosi had best get the Ethics Committee on this the first chance she gets because it looks very much as though Rep. Rangel used his office to advance an ego stroking personal project. If so, then he deserves to get slammed for it, good and hard. Shit Democrats are no different from shit Republicans.
I can’t help but think about why members of the House and Senate give standing ovations to fellow members who, in our eyes, have been publicly disgraced or indicted (Vitter, Stevens, Lieberman(?) et al.)
Could it be that this "disgraceful" behavior is the norm in congress? Business as usual?
I can easily imagine that they’ve all engaged in quid pro quo at some time or another. After all, what’s the use of having power if you don’t benefit from it or at least enjoy some ego-stroking privileges.
How many of our congressfolk live in a glass pumpkin?
…and surely this applies to the local and state political strata as well.
Rangel has given many years of distinguished service. I don’t mind not extracting the last pound of flesh from him if that’s what it takes to get him to go. Let him save face by retiring due to unspecified health issues. But he absolutely has to go.
I have to confess I’m not outraged by what Rangel’s accused of. That’s half because the quid pro quo is a tax break in exchange for supporting a humanitarian pet project of Rangel’s at a public college. As corruption goes, this is very different from a tax break in exchange for home renovations, or getting off the hook with law enforcement in exchange for supporting reelection. The other half of the reason I’m not outraged, of course, is that I’m a Democratic partisan hack. Or I would be a hack if I were employed at it; as it is, I guess I’m just a partisan.
However, I definitely think the party shouldn’t stick its neck out for Rangel either. If he actually broke the law, it’s his fault and his problem. If he didn’t break the law but it’s something that winds up tarnishing his reputation, that’s a reasonable (and maybe insufficient, depending on the value of "tarnish") price for him to pay. There’s a reason codes of conduct devote so much attention to the appearance of impropriety in addition to the actual thing.
There are about five I would just run out of town — Jefferson, Rangel, Dodd, Frank and Pelosi. Those five are pretty much a disgrace to the whole party. But alas, there are five I’d take from the other side of the aisle for basically the same reasons.
Yeah, Rangel needs to be dumped from Ways and Means even if there’s only a semblance of impropriety, and it looks like there’s more than a semblance here. But I don’t have much hope that it will actually happen.
If the story is true, Rangel’s gotta go. I just hope he has the self-respect to walk out instead of being thrown out.
Rangel has to go. Losing Ways and Means should be the minimum punishment. For anyone to believe that the Democrats really want to change the culture (something I never really believed the Congress-critters wanted) then they have to make an example of Rangel.
Agreed, if the story is true then Charlie needs to spend more time with his family. While he may not have lined his pocket with the money he has lined his credibility (so to say) at the expense of the government and its people.
Not a smart move, time for some new blood in his seat.
What I really want to see the Dems do is take action on this shit. I want them to keep their house as clean as they can, we have important work to do that will be undermined if independent voters, turned off by GOP filth, see the same shit on this side.
It will be up to the people of NY to act on this and vote him out the next go ’round. Rangel is way too entrenched with seniority to be drummed out by his peers.
Lieberman as the most recent example.
There are those in the House who are hoping his constituents will take care of the dirty work. Meanwhile, Rangel will be lauded as a great, bi-partisan, public servant by his fellow Reps., Democrats and Republicans alike. Pelosi will fawn.
The Other Steve
The income tax on rent thing is one thing. That appeared to be a fairly honest mistake.
This however, leads to some questions.
Although as others have noted, I’m quite sure this is the norm in Congress.
The question I would be asking, if I was covering this story, is which of Rangels relatives are employed by the project.
Multiply this times _______(insert ungodly figure) and we can begin to get the picture as to why the US is in debt out the wazoo.
Meanwhile, conduct a personal accounting of how much you pay in sales taxes, incomes taxes, and misc fees. Save the receipts for everything you purchase, and see how much the government is nickel-and-dime ing 300million people only to let corporations (and individuals) with offshore accounts off the hook.
Pardon my French but, this is fucking highway robbery.
joe from Lowell
Hang Chollie out to dry.
Dan Rostenkowski’s little shennanigans helped sink health care at the beginning of Clinton’s administration. They’ll hang Rangel around Obama’s neck twice as hard, because he’s black.
We can’t have that. No, it’s not fair. It’s life.
It’s not personal, Charlie. It’s just business.
The "tax shelter" or "loophole" referred to in the article is a result of the fact that the United States does not assert the right to tax foreign companies on their foreign profits, which is sensible enough. The U.S. does assert the right to tax U.S. companies on their foreign profits, including profits earned through their foreign subsidiaries (with certain exceptions).
The problem comes with the rule that treats a corporation as U.S. or foreign based on the place where the corporation was incorporated or organized. Thus, it was a simple matter for these U.S. corporations to re-incorporate their parent company offshore, such that they were now considered to be foreign corporations, and the U.S. would then not tax their foreign profits. The anti-inversion rules simply trap U.S. headquartered corporations in the U.S., albeit imperfectly. Thus the fundamental issue remains as the U.S. will not be asserting the right to tax foreign corporations on their foreign profits any time soon (and again, rightly so). So, if you’re starting a business and plan to expand internationally some day, best to incorporate in the Cayman Islands or Bermuda.
I think anyone. elected OR appointed officials, who have been found using their power for personal gain, should have, as their sentence (probation or parole) working only for minimum wages, using ONLY public transportation, living in Section 8 housing for the post jail time comeuppance and repayment to society.
That said, soon Obama’s speech (cuts and sacrifice) will outline something similar to Carter’s speech on ‘malaise’, because the average citizen has been enabled by their elected officials far too long.
Yes, we, the spoiled masses, must face some personal level of needs and wants which will be partially undone, and it’s about time someone told us so.
Gasoline at the pump has already dropped to 2003 levels and the ‘cheap and abundant’ lie is already re-surfacing.
Time to get tough on ourselves, folks. No more shit about
‘NIMBY’ is gonna fly. If you want to be a true patriot, buckle up. Character will carry you. If you don’t have much, get some now…………………………….
i would think it would be rather difficult to blast Charlie out of the chair’s position; he’s gotta have a lot of IOUs in his back pocket.
still, i hope that Pelosi et al do that. whether this is a crime i leave to the Public Integrity people at DOJ, but this is beyond the appearance of impropriety.
Rangel is my congressman, and I’d be OK with his departure if it came to that. But I have a couple of questions.
First, there has been a steady drumbeat of stories about Rangel for about a year and a half or so. This is a guy who’s been in Congress since the Ice Age. I’d like to see some reporting into the source for these stories (and I do NOT mean the "New York Times," I mean their source…).
My second question is how far out of the mainstream are these practices? My suspicion is that few Congresspeople could withstand the type of scrutiny Rangel’s been getting. ("Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.") That’s not to say that because "everybody does it" it’s OK. But the thing that seems odd about all this is I don’t see where he is personally benefitting. Is he planning on getting a large honorarium from CCNY? I rather doubt it.
Just about none of his constituents care about this stuff. My guess is that there’s someone in his district who is impatient for his seat, who could well be the ring-leader of this campaign to expose Rangel’s questionable activities. (See Question #1 above.)
I’d hate to lose Rangel, who on the merits is a pretty good Ways & Means chairman, but fail to address this kind of "honest graft" that is endemic to Congress (and politicians everywhere).
If you’re wondering what I’d think if it were DeLay, recall that DeLay made these practices his SOP. What brought him down, finally, was actual criminal conduct, which so far is absent from Rangel’s case.
Representative Charles B. Rangel has helped raise $11 million for a City College of New York school of public service to be named in his honor.
It is too hard to separate public and private funding in much of what our representatives do "for us". I personally think that no building or monument should be named for an elected official until 10 years after his or her death.
When I was in North Carolina, every third large building seemed named after the local congressman, probably in thanks for the pork he brought home. But it was our money, not his, that paid for that building.
"actual criminal conduct, which so far is absent from Rangel’s case"
This is a good point. Because of the way laws are written, politicians can state "I’ve done nothin’ illegal" (a direct quote from Edwin Edwards, 4term gov of LA, currently in prison) and they would be correct.
That these laws enable the wealthy to become more wealthy and the powerful to become more powerful is what makes the current state of affairs all the more infuriating.
We refer to It as "representative government" but, in actuality, they’re not representing our interest at all.
No, it’s not illegal but something is very wrong. Maybe even immoral.
I just went through corporate code of behavior training again, one part of which covers giving and/or accepting bribes. We have a policy similar to that of other companies at which I’ve worked, according to which the Rangel donation would certainly fall onto the wrong side of our corporate donation policy because of the *appearance* of impropriety.
There are good ways to make sure that large donations of this form don’t set off alarms. (E.g. Set up a foundation to disburse the funds, and run a competition for the grant. You won’t necessarily give the money to the Congressman’s pet project, but you’ll still get the good PR. And you’ll generally get a better outcome.) The head of Nabors Industries clearly took none of them, and that makes me very suspicious indeed.
New Orleans elected officials are keen on that practice, too.
No. The debt is out the wazoo because we spend trillions of dollars on bullshit wars and even bigger bullshit bailouts after bullshit sanctions and bullshit deregulation have produced bullshit security and a bullshit economy. When you bring in over a trillion a year in revenue, you really don’t ever have an excuse to be over budget.
At this point, I’d like to have it investigated. DeLay’s worst moves weren’t the crimes he committed so much as the out-and-out defiance of any investigation or prosecution against him. He fought tooth and nail to make sure nothing ever got to trial and then fought tooth and nail to evade Congressional ethics rules regarding his conduct.
Republicans could have taken the case to the heavily Republican state SC and won. But DeLay refused to even deal with a system reserved for the little people. The "gentleman’s corruption" he engaged in wasn’t new and I’m really not sure how to combat it.
That said, I’m torn. I get the feeling Rangel is dirty, but I also can’t help but notice how the wingnuts harp on it. If they hadn’t been so persistently blind to their side of the aisle’s corruption, I might treat Rangel with more contempt.
Ultimately, if the movement liberals leverage their new majority in Congress and start cleaning out the trash – William Jefferson, Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, people I obviously missed – I’ll feel a lot better whether Rangel stays or goes. I’d just like to see a grassroots effort to clean up Washington, because this top-down approach never works.
@Zifnab: Um, listen. Joe Lieberman is scum — but lumping him, Feinstein, or Rangel…or even DeLay…in with William "Cold Hard Cash" Jefferson is a joke. I don’t like the smell of this donation, but there is no evidence that Rangel profited directly or indirectly from the donation. And there is no evidence whatsoever that Holy Joe is corrupt, no matter how dishonest he may be.
@demimondian: i agree with you about Lieberman, but i think the standard is quite a bit broader than whether someone profits. trading votes for something else you prize (or offering to donate cash to sway an officeholder’s decision) is no different than taking cash, nor should it be. that said, where exactly to draw the line is a difficult issue, at least WRT criminal conduct. it’s not so difficult when we are talking about appearances.
Brick Oven Bill
Rangel is a petty thief. We should be far more concerned about Peter Orszag and the forces behind his appointment. Orszag is the man who told Congress, through his CBO office, that rescuing Fannie-Freddie would probably involve no cost to the taxpayer.
It might be $25 billion, Orszag said. A remote chance of $100 billion.
Several weeks later he argued for the taxpayer to take over those two GSEs and be on the hook for the $6 trillion in questionable debt. The price tag we will pay for that move is probably $3 trillion. Orszag is a compromised member of the House of Clinton.
The Orszag appointment does not speak well of Obama. Obama appears to be the new mouthpiece of the power structure. I don’t know if he realizes it.