Thursday, July 29, 2010

History Repeats Itself With Charlie Rangel

In all the recent coverage of the Charlie Rangel ethics investigation I've only seen it mentioned once that the 20 term congressman from Harlem had initially won his seat in 1970 by beating incumbent Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in the Democratic primary. (That's Powell at left.) By 1970 Powell was an "iconic, charismatic and flamboyant figure," who was the first black man elected to the US Congress from New York. He held the seat for 25 years, from 1945 until 1971. 

Here's two notable sentences from his wikipedia entry:
"By the mid-1960s Powell was being increasingly criticized for mismanagement of the committee budget, taking trips abroad at public expense (including travel to his retreat on the Bahamian isle of Bimini), and missing sittings of his committee. Following allegations that Powell had misappropriated Labor Committee funds for his personal use and other charges..., in January 1967 the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of his committee chairmanship."

Reading that you can't help but think of the controversy over Congressman Rangel's vacation villa in the Dominican Republic and that infamous photo of him sprawled out asleep on a lounge chair at the beach during a trip paid for by lobbyists, as well as the fact that he was stripped of his Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this year. The parallels are so striking that they would be unbelievable if they weren't true. 

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