News From New York on Rangel Ethics Case
Now that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is home for recess, the local papers continue to further the story on his ethics probe in Washington. First, on Saturday, Rangel told Harlem leaders that he had signed a plea deal on ethics charges, but the GOP pushed for a trial nonetheless:
“He said he had signed an agreement. He was ready to go but I guess politics came into play,” said Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Manhattan), one of about 50 leaders gathered for a Harlem district meeting Saturday.
Another attendee said Rangel implied, “It was Republicans that didn’t want an agreement” and that he signed a deal before the ethics committee released its report last month.
There’s plenty of incentive for both sides to play politics here. Rangel wants to look like he’s cooperating to the fullest extent — and being martyred in the process. The GOP, meanwhile, wants to look like an honest broker, but has every incentive to drag the process out. With 5 House Democrats and Republicans each serving on the ethics subcommittee assigned to Rangel’s case, at least one Republican would be required to consent in order for Rangel’s plea to be accepted.
Second, on Sunday, the New York Post reported that Alianza Dominicana, a social services agency set up in 1985, is getting a $2.6 million grant from The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone “despite serious concerns about the organization’s finances.” Rangel introduced the legislation to create the Empowerment Zone and now sits on its board. Even though the board voted unanimously to approve the grant, the Post smells something fishy in the closeness of Rangel’s relationship with Alianza:
Rangel and Alianza have long been close. The 40-year Harlem legislator earmarked $250,000 in federal funds to the group on Dec. 8, a month after Alianza founder Perez lauded Rangel on the steps of City Hall. Perez has poured thousands into Rangel’s campaign coffers over the years.