For many of the participants, politics seems to inevitably lead to hypocrisy. Say one thing, do another. Preach family values, play with a visiting “Uncle Willy” in a public bathroom. Pontificate about serving the public, and stash payoffs in your freezer.
And as reported last week in The Wall Street Journal, if you are Charlie Rangel, Chairman of the Ways And Means Committee, politics means lecturing about how paying higher taxes is the “moral” thing to do, while not paying your taxes. Rangel has been a proponent of a new 5.4% tax surcharge, going on record as saying paying more taxes right now is the moral thing to do. But while Rangel lectures about morality, he does the following when it comes to paying his own taxes:
- He failed to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income generated from a luxury home he owns in The Dominican Republic. And despite his promises to rectify the situation and pay what is due, he missed the date to refile in May and has still not done the “moral thing” and paid his taxes.
- Perhaps on reason he does not want to declare this income is because he enjoys living in a rent-controlled apartment, and he would lose his rent controlled status if he makes more than $175k per year. Another good financial reason not to do the “moral thing”.
- He also claimed ignorance of the fact that the mortgage for $52k he took out on his Dominican home was mysteriously converted into an interest-free loan by the developer. I don’t know how much money Charlie has, but most people (even the very rich) would notice if one of their mortgages mysteriously was converted into an interest-free loan. And this transaction seems to also be a clear violation of the House rules on gifts. Also, why would any developer give someone an interest-free loan? Could there be an expectation of some favor done in Washington?
- Rangel also appears to have improperly taken a “homestead exemption” to save taxes on his Washington DC home.
Luckily we seem to be aggressively pursuing these kind of questionable ethics. Rangel is currently being investigated by The House Ethics Committee.