Top House GOP'er Wants Sorry Charlie to Step Down

House Minority Leader calls for Rangel to drop Ways & Means job

By Jennifer Millman
|  Friday, Sep 4, 2009  |  Updated 3:18 PM CDT
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Top House GOP'er Wants Sorry Charlie to Step Down

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No reason to celebrate, Charlie -- none at all.

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The calls for embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel to resign his powerful posts just keep comin'. And the latest appeal is one that will be heard across the country.

Rep. John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, wrote a letter to Rangel this morning urging him to step down as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee -- at least until the probe into his financial dealings has been finished.

"You have a record of long and highly-decorated service, and through your good-natured service, you have earned the friendship and admiration of individuals on both sides of the aisle. It is for precisely this reason that I am urging you to take this action," Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) wrote in the letter obtained by The New York Post.

Rangel has been the subject of an ever-increasing heap of ethics investigations: First he forgot to declare millions of dollars worth of assets on his taxes. Then he conveniently "forgot" where he lived long enough to reap the benefits of tax and rent abatements. And most recently, he's accused of funneling thousands of dollars in campaign funds to three of the Democrats on the ethics panel investigating his finances. Bad Charlie.

"As chairman of the powerful House committee, entrusted with the responsibility of writing the tax laws that affect every law-abiding American citizen, you, along with the Speaker and other leaders of the majority party, have an obligation to help set the pace when it comes to standards of official conduct," Boehner wrote. "By relinquishing the gavel voluntarily while the Ethics panel does its work, you would demonstrate your respect for this obligation."

Over the course of the last few weeks, Rangel has admitted to the House Clerk that he neglected to report millions of dollars in assets, income and business dealings over the last seven years. He also failed to report property in New Jersey that he's owned for 15 years and, not surprisingly, failed to pay the taxes on that as well, reports the Post.

GOP members have also asked Rangel to hand over his tax returns to show whether he has paid taxes on the income he neglected to report in financial disclosure statements filed with the House Clerk, according to the paper.

While Boehner writes in his letter that he considers Rangel a friend, he says that the Harlem Democrat's ethical violations extend beyond friendship.

"Americans have always maintained a healthy skepticism about government, and Congress in particular," he wrote. "But as we have witnessed this summer, that skepticism is intensifying, in some cases into open anger - anger fueled by congressional actions that demonstrate a fundamental disrespect for the sacrifices made on a daily basis by citizens and their families throughout our country."

"I urge you not to allow yourself to become an emblem of this disrespect," Boehner wrote.

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