Rangel stiffs NY taxpayers on rent for district office

Rep. Charles Rangel, censured by Congress in 2010 for a variety of misdeeds, including non-payment of taxes on his Dominican villa, didn't pay any rent on his district office in Harlem for all of 2013.

His "excuse": his office lost the lease. But that's OK, said New York state. Instead of having to pay back rent. the state cut the real estate company a check for $87,000.

New York Post:

“I finally heard back from Congressman Rangel’s office and it seems we haven’t gotten the signed lease back because they lost it!” OGS real-estate specialist Sydney Allen wrote in a July 30, 2013, e-mail to a colleague that was ­obtained by The Post.

Rangel paid $7,253 in monthly rent on the 125th Street office he has rented since 2000, expense reports from 2012 show. But the payments stopped for all of 2013.

Incredibly, instead of demanding payment of the back rent and late fees from its deadbeat legislative tenant, the state cut him a huge rent break.

The state says it allowed Rangel in March 2013 to enter into a new sweetheart deal in which he could postpone paying six months of rent. That “abatement” money has still not been paid, nor has the other six months of missed rent from 2013, a OGS official said.

The state comptroller approved a $101,000 lease between Rangel and OGS on Dec. 26, 2013, retroactively covering the period back to April 2013 and future months through December 2014, records show. The 21-month deal resulted in a deeply reduced rent of $4,809 a month.

When The Post last week inquired about the year of missing rent, Rangel’s office and OGS blamed federal sequestration, not the lost lease referenced in agency correspondence.

“As everyone knows, the GOP sequester not only constrained our nation’s economy, but also strained the budget of congressional offices,” said Rangel spokeswoman Hannah Kim.

The sequester, which set caps on lawmakers’ discretionary spending, began in March 2013, two months after records show Rangel stopped paying rent.

Rangel also promised to open another district office in The Bronx, a portion of which he now represents after a 2012 redistricting, but still has not done so.

Crony capitalism at its absolute worst. If an ordinary tenant in that office building had pulled the same thing Rangel did, they'd be out on the street in a heartbeat. Needless to say, that ordinary tenant would not see the state step in so eagerly and finagle a deal that would allow him to keep his office digs while the taxpayer picked up the tab.

Rangel is being seriously challenged by two candidates in the New York primary in June, including state Sen. Adriano Espaillat who ran against him in the primary in 2012. Espaillat got 32% iof the vote in a crowded field then, and with additional Hispanic voters added during redistricting, the Dominican-born candidate has a real shot to take him down.

But if Rangel has proved one thing over the last 43 years in Congress, he is a survivor. He is still favored to win the heavily Democratic seat despite his ethics problems.

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