Charles Rangel on Government Reform



Leave of absence as committee chair for ethics investigation

Congressman, Charles Rangel from New York has taken a "leave of absence" from his position as head of the committee that writes our tax laws, is under an ethics committee investigation for alleged tax dodging, filing deficient financial disclosure forms, and other charges. Although the committee "admonished" him--its weakest reprimand--for taking corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean, [While some] Democratic colleagues called for Rangel to step down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi stressed that Rangel's actions we "not something that jeopardized our country in any way." Is this the new ethical standard we were promised--that corruption is acceptable as long as it doesn't "jeopardize" the country?

Five others in Congress who took the same Caribbean trips as Congressman Rangel were cleared after claiming they did not realize the trips were sponsored by corporations, even though they repeatedly took pictures in front of corporate logos.

Source: To Save America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 59-60 , May 17, 2010

1974: On Watergate Committee, focused on Nixon's conviction

Nixon may not have known how Watergate started, but he certainly did know about and participate in the cover-up. As a former prosecutor, I was focused on what I saw as a clear path to his conviction. Barbara Jordan saw something bigger, and we are all better for her vision. She believed in the Constitution and the individual rights it protects, and took that aspect of the investigation of Nixon's conduct a lot more seriously than I did.
Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.194 , Aug 5, 2008

GOP majority holds secret meetings for final bill drafting

Before the GOP took control of the House and Senate, senior Republicans and Democrats would meet with their committee staffs and work out differences to be brought to the table for the bipartisan conference to consider. The doors might be closed, but everyone had some input into what was on the table.

But since Republicans took over, they call a ceremonial meeting to open the conference, quickly adjourn, then typically go off into secret meetings of their own. The fix--usually in favor of their chosen special interests--is added there. On one such occasion, Bill Thomas (R, CA), the current chairman of Ways and Means, was chairing the official conference. But reports told me that he and the Republicans were meeting privately in his hideaway office. I took my legislative papers & marched right in as though I was invited. They were so embarrassed that they just peeled off and left the room one by one, until the only one left was Thomas. There was nothing for him to do but adjourn the meeting.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.178 , Aug 5, 2008

It's obscene what money has done to Congress

Today money isn't just the mother's milk of politics, it IS their politics. But I had never needed money to hold my seat, so the whole idea of me making a commitment to someone because he or she gave me money was beyond me. Even black members, from our traditionally safest seats, are not immune. Once, during a key Medicare vote, I had black Democrats tell me that white doctors supported them in primaries when blacks didn't. They told me that they had to support this hospital or that one, even though it was out of line with common good, because it supported them when the party didn't.

It's obscene what money has done to the Congress. Just look at the number of millionaires in the Senate these days. The percentage has increased so much in the last 20 years that I think it's safe to say that you have to be one to be a senator. The senate was always a rich man's club, but look at the rising number of millionaires in the House, and the mounting cost of the average congressional campaign.

Source: A Bad Day Since, by Charles Rangel, p.215-216 , Aug 5, 2008

Voted YES on Senate pay raise.

Congressional Summary:
    Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:
  1. expense allowances;
  2. representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
  3. salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
  4. agency contributions for employee benefits;
  5. inquiries and investigations;
  6. the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
  7. the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
  8. miscellaneous items;
  9. the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
  10. official mail costs.
Amends the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act of 1968 to increase by $50,000 the gross compensation paid all employees in the office of a Senator. Increases by $96,000 per year the aggregate amount authorized for the offices of the Majority and Minority Whip.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.

Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act; Bill HR2918&S1294 ; vote number 2009-H413 on Jun 19, 2009

Election reform is #1 priority to prevent disenfranchisement.

Rangel adopted the CBC principles:

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC7 on Jan 6, 2001

Allow same-day voter registration on election day.

Rangel co-sponsored the Same Day Voter Registration Act

To amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require States to permit individuals to register to vote in an election for Federal office on the date of the election.

Source: Bill sponsored by 27 Reps 01-HR128 on Jan 3, 2001

Prohibit voter intimidation in federal elections.

Rangel co-sponsored prohibiting voter intimidation in federal elections

Makes it unlawful for anyone before or during a federal election to knowingly communicate false election-related information about that election, with the intent to prevent another person from exercising the right to vote. Increases from one year to five years' imprisonment the criminal penalty for intimidation of voters.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. OBAMA: This bill seeks to address the all-too-common efforts to deceive voters in order to keep them away from the polls. It's hard to imagine that we even need a bill like this. But, unfortunately, there are people who will stop at nothing to try to deceive voters and keep them away from the polls. What's worse, these practices often target and exploit vulnerable populations, such as minorities, the disabled, or the poor. We saw countless examples in this past election.

Of course, these so-called warnings have no basis in fact, and are made with only one goal in mind--to keep Americans away from the polls. We see these problems election after election, and my hope is that this bill will finally stop these practices. This bill makes voter intimidation & deception punishable by law, and it contains strong penalties. The bill also seeks to address the real harm of these crimes--people who are prevented from voting by misinformation--by establishing a process for reaching out to these misinformed voters with accurate information so they can cast their votes in time.
Source: Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (H.R.1281 & S.453) 07-S453 on Mar 1, 2007

Ban stock trading based on Congressional insider knowledge.

Rangel co-sponsored STOCK Act

Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.

Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):

Source: H1148/S1871 11-S1871 on Nov 15, 2011

Require full disclosure of independent campaign expenditures.

Rangel co-sponsored DISCLOSE Act

Congressional Summary:

Wikipedia & OnTheIssue Summary: