More Dems Abandon Rangel
by Nathan Empsall, Tue Jul 27, 2010 at 04:16:34 PM EDT
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH) made headlines as the first Democrat to call for the ethically challenged Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) to resign. And she seems to have opened the floodgates.
Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), my congressman, became the second Democrat to demand Rangel's resignation today. "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. 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." Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that it's Rangel's choice alone to make. As a party leader, Hoyer has to be a good diplomat and really can't call for a Member's resignation without a conviction, so this is about as damning a statement as he could make under the circumstances. And he made it.
It would obviouslly be helpful to the party if Rangel would step aside, and it would help his district too. Seniority usually helps a district, but once a member's lost his gavel and caucus credibility as Rangel has, there are no benefits to seniority left. If Rangel left now, a new member could begin to build up seniority of their own. His refusal to resign or at least retire is proof that he doesn't have the best interests of his constituents at heart.
That said, this is a legal matter, and legally, someone is innocent until proven guilty. Justice is justice and due process is due process, so I'm more inclined to agree with Hoyer than I am Minnick and Sutton. Rangel has the right to a committee trial if he wants it, even though it would yet again prove that he values himself over his party. I certainly want him to resign and I will be apalled if the Ethics Committee cuts him a deal, but I can't in good conscience declare that the process doesn't matter and that he MUST resign.
But here's hoping, and I'm certainly glad to see Minnick and Sutton stepping forward. The last two ethics investigations to get this far both ended with the accused's eviction, and Rangel said moments ago that he expects to get a trial rather than a plea bargain, so whether he resigns or not things do not look good for "the Chairman."