Last year, we learned that Rep. Rangel had left out income from a Caribbean rental on his income tax return. There's a good discussion of that on Ron Bunni's law blog, A Closer Look at Congressman Rangel's Tax Problems (Sept. 9, 2009). Not a good thing for the chair of the committee that is the main House committee writing tax bills to be involved in. Just last week, the House Standards committee found that Rangel broke the House rules on accepting sponsored travel. Panel Admonishes Rangel for Taking Trips as Gifts, NY Times, Feb. 26, 2010.
As a result, the powerful Democrat, who as chair of the House Ways & Means Committee has an important say in tax legislation, faces increasing demands that he step aside from the chairmanship because of the ethics problems. The House Democrats will caucus to discuss whether he should give up the post. See Donmoyer, Van Hollen Say House Democrats to Meet on Rangel, Mar. 3, 2010. An influential Democrat n the black caucus, Arthur Davis of Alabama, has already called upon him to step aside, saying "Congress needs to do more to restore the public trust." See Fox News, Speaker's Lobby, Rangel Says He's Still Chairman of Ways and Means, Mar. 2, 2010.
One of the things that progressives and conservatives have in common is a desire for government officials that represent the best in us, and not the worst. Both parties have had problems. Conservatives have been particularly prone to be caught with their pants down lately, and often in ways that expose the hypocrisy of their public personae and statements about "traditional family values." See, e.g., Tom Foley. Sarah Palin seemed to be ethically challenged during the campaign in various ways, including her willingness to put her family on display for political benefit and to accept clothing and wardrobe worth $150,000 or so while attempting to portray herself as just common folk. But Dems are far from perfect as well. Perhaps most disgusting are the tax woes of Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle and Charles Rangel. They suggest that personal benefit got in the way of public service.