Has anyone noticed how little we’ve heard from Charlie Rangel since the financial meltdown?
Right when crisis-stricken Wall Street firms might have expected some help from their hometown congressman, who’s also chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rangel has been busy fending off criticism brought on by very public investigations by the New York Post and The New York Times, which prompted an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
“He’s sort of dealing with his own demons. It happens to be an unfortunate coincidence of timing,” said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University.
The House Ways and Means Committee focuses on issues related to taxes, trade, unemployment and debt. Rangel, the dean of the New York delegation, gets major financial support from Wall Street.
“New York’s most important member of Congress is basically spending his time with forensic accountants,” Baker said. He was referring to the professional Rangel hired to help him explain why he did not report income earned from villa he rents to tourists in the Dominic Republic. Earlier this year, Rangel also admitted he broke New York housing law by using one of the four rent-controlled apartments he occupies as a campaign office.
“I’m surprised Rangel and others aren’t out there," said former Security and Exchange Commission lawyer Steve Behar, who is now running for City Council in Bayside. "I’d like to see a Democratic response,” he said.