Since last Thursday I've imagined a series of frightening scenarios and they go something like this: I receive this letter from the Internal Revenue Service charging that I have not paid taxes in years on rental income from a property I own in a tropical paradise.
I then receive another letter from my employer who accuses me of misusing my post as editor-in-chief of Accounting Today in order to stage fundraisers for a local school that, not coincidentally, will be named after me.
I also have this vision of Paul Krugman of The New York Times being named Treasury Secretary, but that's fodder for another column.
Now it would not take The Amazing Kreskin to predict that I would probably not remain in my current job much longer, nor guarantee that I would remain a free man without some sort of electronic monitoring device pending the resolution of my tax troubles.
But then I don't have a 40-year career in Congress, as does former House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who on Thursday, despite admission of the above-mentioned peccadilloes (and a few others), became the first lawmaker to be censured by the House since 1983, and only the 23rd time Congress has censured an elected official dating back the Civil War.
Despite his protestations, Rangel was on the wrong end of an overwhelming 333-79 vote, with many of his fellow Democrats breaking ranks to basically condemn what was, in fact, arrogant and corrupt behavior and typical of the entitlement attitude of lawmakers who have run long past their due dates.
Although the censure was a start for sure, I have yet to see any strong evidence of the current Speaker's pledge to "drain the swamp" of corruption as she dragged her heels harder and longer in this case than a toddler resisting their annual booster shot. In fact, I'm sort of amazed, Rangel garnered near 80 votes in favor of a far more downsized punishment in the form of a reprimand.
The mid-term elections should have sent a clarion call to veteran lawmakers who have held power for longer than they should have that the voters will not stand for those in public service not putting the "public" before service.
I will be among the first to cheer Rep. Rangel's brave exploits as a war hero during the Korean conflict, where he earned both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He endured situations that most of us could not even begin to fathom.
However holding political power for that long warps judgments, perceptions and values to the point where the Congressman claimed the vote was "collared by politics."
If you or I had committed similar infractions, the only thing we would be collared by would be handcuffs.
Rep. Rangel violated his public trust. The elections may have spawned a new era where going forward the public will not be so trusting.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access