Dick of the Week: Charlie Rangel

22 Nov

Whereas the citizens of the world were relatively well-behaved the previous week, this past week produced a dearth of dicks so deep that it became a truly arduous task to select just one to profile.  Fortunately, there is one man who proved that he stands head and shoulders above the rest, a man in whom the public has placed its trust (and votes), and who has repaid that trust with corruption and incompetence. I am talking, of course, about your Dick of the Week for the week of November 14th – 20th, Congressman Charlie Rangel.

Now, let’s be clear. We’re not saying Charlie Rangel is terrible person. He seems like a pretty funny guy, honestly.  And pretty endearing.  Like Bob, who owns the little family grocer down the street, who doesn’t really have a head for business but he always has the freshest apples and likes to talk about the Knicks.  If you’re having a barbecue, course you invite Bob. But if you’re electing the town selectmen, you probably don’t give Bob much thought.

Charlie Rangel is Bob the Grocer. And the residents of New York’s 15th Congressional District didn’t just vote to make old Charlie a town selectman; the sent his crazy ass to Washington to represent them in Congress.  Now, far be it from me to criticize their decision regarding who should represent them. For much of my early life, my Congressman’s name was Dick Swett.

DEEP in Congress.

So, we can’t really blame them for electing Charlie in the first place.  Still, in his time in Congress, Charlie Rangel has proven to be a massive, massive dick, culminating in his ethics trial this past week in which he managed to make a mockery of Congress, our justice system, and an ethics committee that had already been doing a phenomenal job of making ITSELF look stupid.

Charlie burst onto the corruption scene in 2008, when it was revealed that he had been renting four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem.  He had combined the four apartments to create one giant apartment for himself, which he rented at approximately $30,000 below market value.  Since the landlord was a buddy of Charlie’s who donated thousands of dollars to his campaigns, some of Charlie’s colleagues in Congress had a problem with silly things like “ethics” and “$100 limit on gifts” and “$30,000 being way the fuck more than $100.” You know, nit-picky little details.

2008 was a good year for Mr. Rangel though, as it was also discovered that he had tens of thousands of dollars in unreported income from a Dominican beachside villa that he rented for upwards of $1,100 a night during tourist season.  In Charlie’s defense, how could he really be expected to keep track of all those dollars?  There are so many involved that’s it’s really just better to not report them at all and save the IRS the trouble of counting them.

I'll just put "a bunch."

Of course, Charlie’s most well known issues are the other tax problems that came to light in 2008.  Little problems, like failing to report the sale of his home, incorrect values (by hundreds of thousands in some cases) of his Florida assets, and discrepancies in some of the reports from his investment funds.  Although Charlie had the good sense to apologize for these issues, he refused to resign his Ways and Means Committee chairmanship, apparently believing that he was still worthy of a position of authority.
The Ethics Committee investigation into Charlie has revealed additional tax dodges and unreported assets (Charlie himself amended his 2007 tax return to be more accurate–the result was a doubling of his net worth. But, you know. It’s so hard to keep track of silly things like numbers).  The first Ethics Committee investigation into Rangel found him guilty of a number of violations and ordered him to repay a good deal of money to the government. Charlie, naturally, refused to admit any wrongdoing, instead throwing his staff under the bus and blaming them for everything.

But the big smackdown on Charlie came this week, with his latest ethics trial beginning on November 17th.  Charlie did everything in his power to delay or disrupt the hearing.  His first attempt came when he tried to have the House conduct his trial behind closed doors, to prevent the precise charges against him from becoming public.  Fortunately, the House denied his request.

Charlie’s final attempt to delay the trial involved moving to indefinitely delay it because he had already paid his lawyers $2 million and could not afford to pay them anymore.  He wanted the trial delayed until he could put together a large legal defense fund.  “I am being denied a right to have a lawyer right now,” he said, somewhat laughably. When his request was denied, the man who famously told his colleagues “I am not going away,” on the House floor in August….went away.  Walking out of his own trial, Charlie was not present to see his 11 convictions handed down by the Ethics Committee.

"Haters gonna hate." -Charlie Rangel

The Ethics Committee voted 9-1 to approve a recommendation that the House pass a full censure of Charlie, the harshest penalty in its power to recommend (short of kicking Charlie out of Congress entirely).  Of course, we can all sleep easier now knowing that Charlie Rangel has received the most severe slap on the wrist that Congress is capable of administering.  With defenses of Charlie ranging from irrelevent, such as that offered by Rep. John Lewis: “He came to Selma, [Ala.], and he walked with many of us, including Dr. Martin Luther King,” to dramatics and blatant attempts to elicit sympathy, such as Rangel’s own words: “Sixty years ago, I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea, and as a result I wrote a book that, having survived that, that I haven’t had a bad day since. Today I have to reassess that,” it’s tough to feel much sympathy.

For the ethical violations themselves, for Charlie’s consistent refusal to resign from his positions of power, for his rambling and disjointed self-defense, for his ridiculous attempts to derail his trial, and for having a Wikipedia page that reads more like a rap sheet than an encyclopedia, Congressman Charles B. Rangel is your Dick of the Week.

Sorry Chuck.

Also receiving votes:

The Citizens of NY’s 15th Congressional District: These crazy bastards continue to re-elect Charlie Rangel despite the overwhelming evidence of his corruption. They say you get what you deserve and at this point, NY-15 deserves Charlie Rangel.

Fox: Fox’s executives chose this week to renew the Simpsons for yet another season, ensuring that the formerly great television institution will continue to destroy all fond memories once held by its viewers.

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