The ongoing stories about Congressman Charles Rangel’s failure to disclose significant assets and transactions, and even checking and brokerage accounts, in his congressional disclosure forms is just another example of the culture of contempt for the rules and disdain for the little guy that is so sickeningly pervasive in Washington, D.C.
The whole purpose of congressional disclosure rules is to report assets, outside income, and other financial data that could suggest corruption with respect to the industries Congress is regulating. Rangel is the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for tax litigation in the House of Representatives. What position could be a more likely focus of special treatment and sweetheart deals designed to obtain undue influence? If the congressional self-reporting system were intended to be a meaningful regulatory regime, you would think it would be especially attentive to proper, full, and complete disclosure by the heads of powerful committees — yet Rangel grossly understated his income and net worth and failed to disclose lucractive transactions for years. Once his omissions were disclosed, he promptly amended his forms and no doubt will claim “no harm, no foul.” Care to bet whether he will be disciplined in any way by the House Ethics Committee for his chronic flouting of the disclosure rules? Don’t hold your breath.
Frankly, it gets boring writing about the personal greed, negligence and ethical vacuity of our elected representatives, but if informed citizens don’t do so the corruption problem won’t get any better. People like Chairman Rangel need to know that some people are paying attention, even if the voters who routinely return him to Congress apparently aren’t.