The “Point of View” and “Be My Guest” columns have been meant to articulate and discuss differing points of view on contemporary issues. There are times, however, when actions do indeed speak louder than words – this is one of those times.
Earlier today I received a poignant letter from Congressman Charles Rangel asking that I call the switchboard of the U.S. House of Representatives – 202-224-3121 – urging the House of Representatives NOT to censure him in a vote later today or tomorrow. I use the term “poignant” advisedly, because as an elected official I have read numerous letters and notes from Congressman Rangel over the years asking for support, votes, etc. This letter was very different. It was truly from the heart.
It is very sad that after 40 years of service in Congress that Congressman Rangel is on the verge of further (and official) public humiliation in the town square, as it were. What is worse, the proposed censure has historically (during the past 27 years) been reserved for members of Congress who have been convicted of payroll fraud, sex with Congressional pages and sexual misconduct with Congressional staffers.
Even the counsel for the Congressional Ethics Committee has stated that Congressman Rangel committed no fraud or attempt to enrich himself. Poor and sloppy recordkeeping has taken a tremendous toll on his legacy and position in Congress.
Censure seems to be a petty and unnecessary indignity to heap upon a man who has done more good in his lifetime than most of us could ever hope to do.
In closing I would suggest that prior to calling the House of Representatives you visit Congressman Rangel’s website – http://charlierangel.org/node/104 – and make up your own mind. If you do agree with me that enough is enough, please take some action and make that call. Too many voices have been muted for too long.