One of the great ironies in any legislative branch is the fact that in order to get a certain amount of pull for your district, your representative needs seniority. In order to get seniority, they spend a lot of time fund-raising and deal making, which in turn makes them a typical grimy politician and in turn makes you get the urge to vote them out.
Then you’re reminded that if you DO put them out (especially if you are dealing with a Rep of color) you have to go through the whole hassle of having a representative with no experience finding his way while you have little to no influence on the general scene.
This is the cruel cycle of the legislative branch, where EVERYONE ELSE’S Congressman/State Rep/City Councilman is a crook and yours is just handling biz.
But what about when The proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan and even those of us OUTSIDE the district are affected. What do you do when YOUR rep is a Heavy Hitter and his potential doom affects the whole country?
Let us dispense with the hypotheticals and get on with the reality.
Charlie Rangel might be looking for a shovel these days. The flurries started last summer as a series of embarrassing revelations. Among them was the fact that Rangel was occupying four rent-controlled apartments simultaneously in Upper Manhattan, and that his tax returns — Rangel is the chairman of the tax code–writing House Ways and Means Committee — were such a mess that he was hiring a “forensic auditor” to figure out why he had failed to report $75,000 in rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic. Adding to the tangle of questions was the fact that, even as he was living in those New York apartments and being charged less than half what they would cost on the going market, Rangel was claiming a homestead exemption on a house he owns in Washington, D.C.
All of that might be written off as small lapses, or even just sloppiness. But any snickering stopped last week, when the New York Times reported that Rangel had been “instrumental” in preserving a lucrative tax loophole that benefited an oil-drilling company whose chief executive had pledged $1 million to a school of public service named for Rangel at City College of New York CCNY). Now the doubts surrounding Rangel have grown to the point that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is worried they will linger past Barack Obama’s inauguration and into the dawn of the new Democratic era. She issued a statement the day before Thanksgiving saying she expects the House Ethics Committee to complete its initial inquiry into Rangel — an investigation that the chairman called for himself — by Jan. 3.
What are you going to do?