Well, Charlie Rangel has learned his likely fate. For misusing his Congressional office, evading the tax laws he’s spent decades writing, “forgetting” to report various incomes, grabbing FOUR rent-controlled apartments for himself (including some as not home, but office space), and a host of other corruptions petty and large, he has finally been given his comeuppance.
Oh, and he has to pay back the taxes he evaded.
That’s it. One of the most powerful men on Capitol Hill (if only for a few more weeks), the man who couldn’t be bothered to actually obey the tax laws he crafted, who abused the power he had been entrusted with, who denounced others repeatedly for doing what he did himself — all he has to do is pay back the taxes he didn’t pay for years and accept that his colleagues are very, very, very disappointed with him.
I’ve long had a simple philosophy when it comes to politicians accused of corruption: guilty until proven innocent, and sometimes they oughta be punished even if innocent — because they are probably guilty of something anyway, and even if not it’ll send a message to the others.
But in this case, when the corruption is so rank, and so exceptionally hypocritical (Rangel has been writing tax laws for decades, so he of all people has no business pleading ignorance), removal from office is the very least penalty that should be imposed. Rangel should be fined and imprisoned for his deeds.
But he won’t. He’s going to suffer far worse. He’s going to have to pay the taxes he owes, and he’s going to have to live with the ignominy of having his colleagues all stand up and shake their fingers at him.
I think he’d almost prefer the death penalty.