Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) faces a primary election tomorrow against State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came within 1,100 votes of upsetting him two years ago, and Harlem preacher Rev. Michael Wolrund. If elected, Espaillat would be the first Dominican elected to Congress. In a June 6 televised debate, Rangel invoked Espaillat’s ethnicity:
Just what the heck has he done besides saying he’s a Dominican?…He wants to be the Jackie Robinson of the Dominicans in the Congress, which is ambitious, but the fact is, Jackie Robinson was a star before he reached the major leagues. And he’s not a Jackie Robinson.
Of course, the 84-year old Rangel has practiced his own version of Dominican politics. From a posting that appeared on this website on August 10, 2010:
NLPC yesterday filed a formal Complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly known as the House Ethics Committee. Click here to download a 10-page pdf of the Complaint.
The Complaint focuses on Rep. Rangel’s efforts to direct millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money to a politically well-connected but financially unstable nonprofit called Alianza Dominicana. Rangel’s relationship with the controversial group based in New York City was the subject of a front page story in the Sunday August 8, 2010 New York Post.
The Post story detailed how Rangel used his position of influence with the New York Empowerment Zone to direct millions in taxpayer assistance in the form of loan guarantees, a loan and a grant to the group for the purchase of a $19 million new building in Manhattan. At the same time, Alianza Dominicana had failed to pay its state and federal taxes and had run up huge debts with its landlord and other creditors. The group had even stiffed its own employees on hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll.
NLPC’s complaint documents how the nonprofits supporters, board, staff, building contractor and the head of the Dominican Republic bank financing the construction had all contributed tens of thousands of dollars over recent years to Rangel’s political committees.
The House Ethics Committee did nothing in response to our Complaint. It could be that by August 2010, it was well on it way to convicting Rangel on 11 unrelated counts of violating House Rules that would be the basis for his Censure in December 2010.
Of course, Rangel’s most direct link to the Dominican Republic is his beachfront villa. In 2008, we reviewed Rangel’s financial disclosure forms and noticed that he has a home in the Dominican Republic, but that he reported little or no rent. We sent an investigator to Dominican Republic who found that the home was continuously rented out. We gave the story to the New York Post. On August 31, 2008, the Post ran a front-page story by Isabel Vincent and Susan Edelman with the now-iconic photo of Rangel in a beach chair.