Friday, July 11, 2008

Rep. Rangel "flat" out wrong

Like many New York City residents, Rep. Charles Rangel benefits from the city's rent control laws. However, unlike other residents, he has four rent-controlled apartments: three grouped together to form a suite and another on a separate floor that serves as his office.

Rep. Rangel's cozy arrangement violates both the spirit and letter of the city's rent control law, which is intended to make residences there more affordable. In particular, rent-control is only supposed to apply to residences. He also appears to be violating House ethics rules that ban representatives from accepting gifts in excess of $100. The difference between the controlled rents that his landlord has agreed to accept and the fair market rents for his units is several thousand dollars per month and should be rightly viewed as a gift.

Rep. Rangel should "get his house in order" by ending this arrangement immediately, and the House ethics panel should do likewise by investigating and determining an appropriate disciplinary action. Come November, the voters of New York will have an opportunity to decide whether additional "House cleaning" is needed and whether Mr. Rangel should have more time to putter around his inexpensive digs.