Rangel’s Brownstone Corruption Goes Back to Sixties

Rangel's brownstoneIn a lengthy story today titled “The case against Charlie Rangel,” New York Post reporters Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein examine “forty years of tax evasion, misdeeds and contempt.” Most interesting is their account of how Rangel tapped into a housing program for poor people to renovate his Harlem brownstone into six units, one of which continued to be his residence.

It’s the same building cited by NLPC in a September 16 Complaint to the Ethics Committee. On his financial disclosure forms, Rangel reported little or no rental income for eight years (1993-2001) from the six units, even though public records show tenants were living there. Click here to download a 35-page pdf of the Complaint

According to the Post:

On April 9, 1965, a 34-year-old lawyer named Charles Rangel took out a low-interest mortgage to renovate his childhood home — a row house on West 132nd Street that he had just inherited from his grandfather.

The $39,350 loan came from a New York City program to develop low-income housing. Rangel and his sister Frances were to use the money to turn the family home in Central Harlem, which Rangel affectionately called Buckingham Palace, into six apartments.

When Rangel amended his financial disclosure form in August to show hundreds of thousand of dollars of undisclosed assets, he disclosed for the fist time a capital gain of between $500,000 and $1 million when he sold the brownstone in 2004. The revised filings covered the years 2002-2006, but not 1993-2001, when NLPC alleges he failed to report rental income.

Members of Congress are required to report gross rents and capital gains on their financial disclosure forms. Willful disclosure violations are subject to both civil and criminal penalties.

The Post continues:

While Rangel may have thought he scored a sweetheart deal, the loan came back to haunt him during his first run for Congress in 1970. An opponent in the Democratic primary accused him of violating the conditions of the mortgage because he was living in one of the apartments that were supposed to be rented only to poor people.

But even as he celebrated his victory, the loan dogged the young, ambitious politician. City and federal investigators launched a probe into the dealings of the $135 million Municipal Loan Program, which was set up to give loans to building owners who couldn’t otherwise get funding to rehabilitate their properties. The Post, in a front-page story in July 1971, fingered the newly minted Congressman and another elected official in the scandal.

So it would go for Charlie Rangel over the next four decades — a pattern of tax evasion, special treatment and enrichment that seemed to increase with his power and prestige in Congress. Whether it’s living in rent-stabilized apartments while making a hefty salary, or failing to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in earnings and assets, his actions betray a consistent, defiant sense of entitlement. And when he is caught, the powerful Democrat blames a right-wing conspiracy.

Because we touched off much of the scrutiny now being applied to Rangel by exposing his undisclosed and unreported rental income from his Dominican Republic beach house, NLPC is presumably a key participant in the conspiracy. The Post notes our take:

“Congressman Rangel’s record of unpaid taxes, false financial disclosure reports and hidden assets has been unfolding for more than a year,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative ethics group that has filed several complaints against Rangel. “Speaker Pelosi has done nothing to remove him as Chairman from the House committee that writes the tax laws. Apparently, there is one set of laws for powerful Congressmen and another for everyone else.”


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