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Charlie Rangel Pretty Excited About Facing Ethics Charges

10:08 AM, Jul 23, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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I don't know why y'all would think that a subcommittee on ethics not convened since James Traficant would worry Charlie Rangel. I guess 40 years in a safe Congressional seat makes a man supremely confident. Rangel told reporters yesterday, after a House committee revealed he would be charged with ethics violations after a two-year investigation, that he "looks forward to responding," and that the "cloud" over is now dissipating.

I think he may misunderstand the nature of clouds.

But let's probe Rangel's sunny disposition a little further. When MSNBC's legacy whippersnapper Luke Russert poses the fairly reasonable question— "Do you think you might lose your job over this?"— Rangel is entertainingly flummoxed. He is, after all, a public servant who works diligently to write the tax code we must all follow and then allegedly ignores it when it suits him. Russert should really show a little respect, if not for Rangel's distinguished career, at least for his chutzpah:

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For a primer on what Rangel may be facing, one organization found 28 omissions of assets he acquired, owned, or sold in 30 years of public disclosure. The Washington Post offered an examination in 2008 of financial problems that could lead to charges for Rangel. The charges will be announced next Thursday:

Rangel, 78, acknowledged last week that he failed to disclose and pay taxes on at least $75,000 in rental income from a Dominican Republic villa that he has owned for 20 years -- a home financed, in part, with a no-interest loan from the developer. Rangel said he would amend his returns and pay back taxes of more than $10,000.

The ethics panel is investigating the villa deal. It also is examining Rangel's rental of several New York apartments at below-market rates and his fundraising entreaties on congressional stationery on behalf of an academic center bearing his name.

More questions about Rangel's financial filings arose over the weekend.

The congressman's disclosure forms and Florida real estate records indicate that Rangel underreported the value of a condominium he and his wife owned near Miami and that he failed to fully disclose his privately sponsored trips as a member of Congress.

Rangel also promised in 2008 to make 20 years of tax records public once the ethics committee had determined whether he violated any rules. I wonder if he's "looking forward" to that.

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