Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick thinks embattled New York Congressman Charlie Rangel should resign from the U.S. House, but Idaho’s other member of Congress won’t say. Rep. Mike Simpson, who represents the eastern portion of the state, won’t comment on Rangel’s alleged misdeeds because it’s possible he could be called on to review the case. Rangel is accused of, among other things, using his official letterhead to improperly raise funds for a private educational center named after himself at the City College of New York, as well as failure to declare large amounts of personal assets on House disclosure forms.
Minnick told IdahoReporter.com that initially he wanted the voters of Rangel’s New York district to decide his fate in November, but that he has since changed his mind and feels that Rangel should step down. “I think it was appropriate for Rep. Rangel to step down from his post as a committee chair pending the investigation, but I always prefer to let voters decide whether or not someone should keep his or her seat,” said Minnick. “However, now that the investigation is complete, and provided the facts are as alleged, I think it’s clear that he should resign from Congress.”
Rangel, one of the most-tenured and powerful members of Congress, stepped down from his chairmanship of the powerful House Way and Means Committee, the panel tasked with writing tax law for the nation. Rangel has told several media outlets that he welcomes the coming ethics investigation and that he isn’t fearful of the result. This is only the third time in the last 30 years that an ethics investigation has gotten this far. Rep. Jim Traficant, a Democrat from Ohio, and Rep. Michael Myers, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, were each expelled from the House on separate occasions – Traficant in 2002 and Myers in 1980.
Simpson’s spokesperson, Nikki Watts, said her boss will withhold his comment on the allegations because he wants to remain impartial if he is called upon to review the matter. “Congressman Simpson maintains a unique role with the House Ethics Committee where he is one of 10 Republican members to whom cases can be referred for initial review,” said Watts. “Since taking on that responsibility, he refrains from taking a position on pending matters before the committee as there is always a chance he could be called to review a case.”
What was described in the Washington Post as a “judge-like” panel will gather on Thursday and officially read off the charges against Rangel. Congress will then take a 6 and 1/2 week break, meaning that any action in Rangel’s case will come just before his primary election in September and could be strung along all the way into November.