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Dems Push Rangel to Make a Deal

Fed up by months of foot dragging on the part of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a subcommittee of the House ethics panel is preparing to go public on Thursday with details of its charges against the 40-year veteran of congress — unless House Democratic leaders can persuade him to make a deal. Rangel, who denies the allegations, has resisted settlement talks since they began in May, to the increasing frustration of his Democratic colleagues.

Fearful that the longer Rangel stalls, the more ammunition he will supply Republicans for painting Democrats as corrupt in November, House Democrats are pushing Rangel to accept a previous offer by the ethics committee that includes an apology but allows him to remain in Congress. “Democrats don’t want to give Republicans an opportunity this summer,” a senior Democratic aide told Politico. “Rangel is very well liked, but no one is willing to lose their seat or chairmanship over him.

Rangel, so far, hasn’t displayed any particular urgency in getting the issue resolved, nor does it appear that his Harlem district is about to turn on him:

Rangel, who has denied the allegations, didn’t spend the weekend hunkered down with lawyers. He returned to New York to keep up his usual hectic weekend schedule — cruising through the streets of Harlem from one event to the next. He rode in the front seat of a gray Cadillac, a briefing book in one hand and a cellphone in the other. [...]

“I don’t believe the back-and-forth. But we are in total support of the chairman. And I still call him the chairman. He’s done a marvelous job for this community and this nation,” said Weaver, chairman of the Community Advisory Board for Harlem Hospital Center, where Rangel spoke Saturday and had a brief question-and-answer with reporters. “They are making a lot of whether the Republicans are going to pick on him, but I don’t think someone in another state won’t vote for a Democrat because of what Charlie has allegedly done in New York.”

House Democratic leaders aren’t so sure. Republicans are already busy planning election pamphlets and hoping to target other members who have benefited from Rangel’s donations. The last thing Democrats want is a drawn-out affair over the August recess followed by a possible open trial in September.

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