Over 1 year ago, in September 2008, during my campaign for Wyoming's lone Congressional seat, I held a press conference during which I stated that Charlie Rangel should step down from his leadership post.
It seemed pretty simple to me at the time. How could we as conscientious Democrats (and citizens) allow the head of the main tax writing committee in Congress, The House Ways and Means Committee, to not pay his taxes and not properly report his income/net worth? I totally agree with everything Markos says in his post this morning about Rangel. The Democratic leadership is simply perpetuating the ever-growing belief that rules only apply to us regular folk outside the beltway. There is no quicker way to lose support, reduce activism and squander a golden opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americas than looking the other way when one of our own abuses their position and power.
Whether its William Jefferson or Charlie Rangel, the way we Dems show we are different from the other Party is to take the difficult and painful steps to police our own and prove to the public that "doing the right thing" can come ahead of blind party loyalty.
BTW, during last year's campaign, I took the money that Charlie Rangel and his leadership PAC had contributed to my campaign, over $10,000, and without fanfare or announcement donated it to several worthy charities across Wyoming. Against the advice of leadership, we told Mr Rangel's staff what we were doing and why, at the risk of losing the support of one of the most powerful members of Congress. It was the right thing to do then and forcing Mr. Rangel to step down from his leadership post while these ethical issues loom over his head is the right thing to do now.