22 Sep 2011 Rangel Recognition Highlights a Counterproductive Congress
Not quite ten months after being censured by his colleagues in a lopsided 333-79 vote, Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) is being feted today by some of the same people who voted against the former Ways and Means Committee chairman.
Rangel’s portrait was unveiled this afternoon in the Longworth House Office Building.
Prior to the censure vote last December, Rangel was found guilty of 11 charges brought against him by the House Committee on Ethics.
Members of Congress shouldn’t be surprised about why their approval rating as a body is so low when they honor and praise someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Current Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) joined his predecessor Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), current Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) and Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), along with Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), in celebrating Charlie.
While improper solicitations of money for the “monument to me” — the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York — was a major factor in his downfall, the Federal Election Commission ruled that Rangel could use campaign funds that donors most likely expected would go towards his re-election to pay for the portrait by Simmie Knox (who has also painted Bill and Hillary Clinton, numerous lawmakers and a few Supreme Court justices).
Rangel’s office refused to discuss with the press the final cost of the objet d’art, but a 2007 Washington Post report set the price at the time at $64,500. According to an FEC lawyer, Rangel consulted an art broker regarding “eight museum-quality portrait artists” before choosing Knox’s option of a “three-quarter body length size, important details and a custom frame.”
For those sensing extreme vanity on Rangel’s part, please note that this project began just months into his tenure as chairman in 2007. He later relinquished the chairmanship under an ethical cloud in March of 2010.
When people who gained their leadership positions by pledging to “drain the swamp” of congressional impropriety and publicly proclaim a “higher responsibility to our country to uphold a high ethical standard in the Congress of the United States” gladly honor such a symbol of scandal, it means something to the average Joe’s of the world.
Deneen understands this, noting:
It’s truly shameful that a bipartisan congressional tribute was held for the shameless Charlie Rangel so soon after he was censured. The hypocrisy of Congress in this case is outrageous. First, they censured Rangel. Less than a year later, they honor him. Clearly, this is just another indication that Congress is a club where everyone looks out for each other. Congress should be representing “We the People” and not their own self-interests.