Commentary Magazine


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Dems Continue to Entertain

Just because the Democrats lost an election and chose to anoint the woman who led the political equivalent of Pickett’s Charge (I know the much-maligned George Pickett was simply following directions from Robert E. Lee, but let’s not get sidetracked) doesn’t mean that they have finished providing fodder for the GOP. Far from it. The circus was in full swing today:

Members of the House ethics committee began deliberating charges Monday that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated Congressional rules, after an unusual public hearing that was abbreviated by the longtime congressman’s dramatic exit from the proceedings.

Mr. Rangel, who appeared at the inquiry alone, stunned the packed hearing room by walking out after complaining that he had no lawyer because he could not afford the millions of dollars in legal fees he had racked up during the two-year investigation.

Yes, the classic definition of chutzpah is a defendant who murders his parents and throws himself upon the mercy of the court as an orphan; but a tax cheat and Dominican Republic condo owner complaining he’s too poor to pay lawyers to defend him on ethics charges is pretty darn close. The committee was having none of it:

In a rebuke to Mr. Rangel, members noted that he had been advised repeatedly, starting as early as September 2008, that he was well within his rights to set up a defense fund to raise money for his legal expenses. Mr. Rangel and his defense team from the firm Zuckerman Spaeder parted ways several weeks ago.

With Mr. Rangel’s chair empty, the committee’s chief counsel presented what he said was “uncontested evidence” that the congressman’s fund-raising and failure to disclose his assets or pay taxes on a Dominican villa had violated Congressional rules.

A little late, and only after an electoral thumping, I think the Congress is finally going to be draining that swamp — starting with the Rangel cesspool.