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U.S. Rep. Rangel Should Step Aside During Ethics Probe


Partisanship is no doubt behind calls by GOP members of Congress for the removal of U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws.

A Republican bid for his removal last week failed when the House Democratic majority referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which is now well into the second year of its investigation of Rangel.

The New York congressman this year belatedly added $500,000 to his asset disclosure. He has allegedly claimed tax breaks for his primary residence in both Washington, D.C., and New York. He is accused of evading taxes on $75,000 in rental income from a beach house he owns in the Dominican Republic and trading tax favors for a contributor to a center named after him at New York's City College, among other issues.

This probably isn't the person who should be in charge of writing and adjusting the nation's tax code.

Republicans looked the other way as some of their members went astray when they controlled the House, and that is one reason they are now in the minority.

The Democrats ran against their behavior.

The voters in his district should have the final word on whether Rangel remains in the House.

But a committee chairmanship is a gift to a congressman from his colleagues. The chairmanship of Ways and Means is one of the most powerful positions in the nation's capital. The standards for holding it should be higher than the behavior exhibited by Rangel. Democrats should take their justified criticism of the Republicans to heart in their handling of the Rangel matter.

The House ethics investigation has now lasted far longer than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said it would and is beginning to look more like an evasion than a real inquiry.

Rangel's colleagues should tell him to step aside.




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