Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) announced Wednesday that he would temporarily step down as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, days after being admonished for breaking House rules by accepting corporate-financed travel.
The longtime incumbent from Harlem, who was facing a growing wave of opposition from within his party, said he didn’t want the ethics probe into his activities to affect fellow Democrats running in next fall’s House elections.
“In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “asking her to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work,” Rangel said.
Citing the ongoing probe, the 20-term incumbent declined to take reporters’ questions.
In a statement issued by her office, Pelosi said she would honor Rangel’s request to step down temporarily. “I commend Chairman Rangel for his decades of leadership on jobs, health care, and the most significant economic issues of the day,” the statement said.
Rangel, 79, becomes the highest-ranking House member to resign a leadership position amid an ethical scandal in four years, since then-Reps. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) stepped down as, respectively, majority leader and administration committee chairman amid the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation.
Note the bolded part. That is what this is all about. Elections. The Democrats don’t want this embarassing episode on their hands so he’s “temporarily” stepping aside because he thinks it takes the heat off of House Democrats who are up for re-election this year. Ah, such a noble little martyr, isn’t he? Not.
Left Coast Rebel has some questions:
Why is it in this country that we put up with transgressions from leadership, especially an individual that has power over the tax writing branch of the government (think of Tim Geithner, ‘my dog ate my turbotax’ as well). Why is it that our leadership at this point just brushes over malfeasance with a willing accomplice press? How in God’s name can the head of the IRS cheat on his taxes yet keep his job? How can Charles Rangel keep his job as chief tax writer after myriad scandals as well?
That said, as Michelle Malkin notes, Rangel’s not out of the woods yet in terms of the ongoing ethics investigation -and furthermore no matter whether the ethics panel finds any more wrongdoing on Rangel’s part, the fact that he has “temporarily” stepped down after being admonished for ethical wrongdoing speaks volumes – and not in a good way.
It ain’t ovah til it’s ovah.