For politicians with major bad news to release or to make public, there's no time like the dead of August to do it. The thinking goes that the public won't remember a thing come September. We hope Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., will have no such luck. His belated revelation of previously unreported income, property and bank accounts demands that he step aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel's amended financial disclosure form, which exposes omissions from his 2002 through 2006 records, is a treasure trove of outrage. He neglected to report a checking account with the Congressional Federal Credit Union and one with Merrill Lynch, each valued between $250,000 and $500,000; the tens of thousands of dollars he's earning from dividends from a number of mutual funds and stocks; and the money made from the sale of a Harlem townhouse. As a result, Rangel's reported net worth doubled, from between $516,015 and $1,316,000 to between $1,028,024 and $2,495,000.
We called on Rangel to resign his coveted post last November while the House ethics committee probed his contact with a potential donor to a pet project who also had business before the committee. Mind you, that committee already was looking into his using official stationery to raise funds for that pet project, paying below-market rents on four Harlem apartments, failing to report income from a Florida condominium sale and failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic. There's another subcommittee investigation into lobbyist-paid trips by Rangel and four other members of Congress.
Much is expected of elected officials. Much more is expected and demanded of those entrusted with chairmanships and the power that comes with them, especially when it involves the nation's purse strings. From all that we've seen thus far, Rangel has violated that trust continually and seemingly without care.