05 September 2009

Calls for Rangel to Step Down from Chairmanship

Jackie Kucinich reports at Roll Call that Rep. Boehner has asked that Rep. Rangel step down while ethics investigations into Rangel's serial memory problems are ongoing.
'Boehner’s request comes a week after reports that Rangel failed to disclose $600,000 in assets as well as tens of thousands of dollars in income on his 2007 financial disclosures. ...

“As chairman of the powerful House committee, entrusted with the responsibility of writing the tax laws that affect every law-abiding American citizen, you, along with the Speaker and other leaders of the majority party, have an obligation to help set the pace when it comes to standards of official conduct,” Boehner wrote. “By relinquishing the gavel voluntarily while the Ethics panel does its work, you would demonstrate your respect for this obligation.”

A spokesman for Rangel said Republican attempts to remove Rangel from his post are ill-timed, saying the ethics committee should be allowed to finish its investigation.

“Congress has a comprehensive, bipartisan process for reviewing any allegations made against a Member — the House ethics committee. Chairman Rangel himself initiated the request for the committee to review the allegations made against him,” the spokesman said. “Any action by the Minority Leader or others to prejudge the outcome of that bipartisan process would unfairly undermine the work of the ethics committee.”'

Rangel has repeatedly been under the gun for 'forgetting' to disclose numerous funding sources and to pay taxes, and has been protected by the House Democrats from investigations until recently. While the Ethics Committee is now formally investigating Rangel, Speaker Pelosi has stated that she will not discipline him unless and until he is found guilty by the committee. Perhaps the strangest aspect to this entire matter are the tough and punitive IRS rules, slipped into the health care bill, which would target even accidental tax violators. So far, he's unwilling to put himself through the same ringer he's demanding that other taxpayers be put through.

'Rangel's bill would:

* Punish those who fail to alert the IRS to potentially questionable tax exemptions.

* Bar the IRS from waiving penalties against taxpayers who clearly erred in good faith.

* Double fines in certain circumstances.

"The bill raises penalties and eliminates many of the reasonable defenses that taxpayers have always been able to use when honest mistakes are uncovered," one lawyer told The Post.

In fact, the bill increases fines "in some cases even for honest mistakes," the expert added.

Republicans yesterday ripped Rangel's attempt to go after taxpayers, given his own failure to pay taxes on rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic and his extensive reporting problems with his financial-disclosure statements to Congress'


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