The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, has had better months. Beset by tax problems - misreporting and underreporting of his income, unethical abuse of New York City's rents stabilization program for his apartments, the use of government stationary for fundraising purposes (not for his campaign but for a center that bears his name in New York City that he supports), and using federal buildings to store his Mercedes-Benz (rent-free).
He stored the car for years at a House of Representative parking lot in violation of congressional rules. The car's registration expired in 2004, was covered with a tarp, and had no license plates. Once the New York Post publicized this "deal" the clock was ticking. Sure enough, the car got the hook yesterday and was towed away from the garage.
Charles Rangel refused to answer questions regarding the issue, reports the New York Post:
The Post reported yesterday that Rangel had flouted rules barring the storage of vehicles for more than 45 days and requiring all cars to have license plates and a valid House parking sticker.
"The new information about Chairman Rangel taking advantage of taxpayers to illegally store his vintage luxury car is appalling, mostly because it is part of a pattern - a pattern of Chairman Rangel abusing his public position for personal gain," said House GOP leader John Boehner's spokesman, Michael Steel.
Ken Spain, press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said, "In a way, this latest revelation is symbolic of how Charlie Rangel and the Democrat-led Congress have chosen to conduct themselves."
It appears Charlie has some tall explaining to do. To whom might be the question: Will there be a thorough ethics investigation of one of the most powerful men in the country?
"Rangel continues to openly thumb his nose at the law while remaining parked atop the most powerful committee in Congress. The 'most ethical congress in history' continues to embarrass itself."
In addition to breaking House rules, Rangel's storage of his car may add to his already serious tax problems.
A House Web site on parking regulations informs anyone with a space that, under IRS regulations, the benefit of the free parking is considered "imputed income" and must be declared to the government.
The site says the spaces are valued by the House at $290 per month - about the cost of leasing a space in a private DC-area garage - and $100 of that is deemed taxable.
Don't hold your breath...