Guess who’s handling Rangel’s defense?

posted at 10:12 am on July 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Charlie Rangel will face his peers tomorrow in a bid to save his sinecure seat in the House after multiple ethics violations involving undisclosed income and influence peddling.  Of course, Rangel has the right to defend himself and to acquire the best legal representation to do so.  However, given all of that undisclosed income, perhaps he might have thought of paying for it himself, rather than having lobbyists provide counsel, as Timothy Carney reports in the Washington Examiner:

Two of the three firms providing legal counsel to Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., in his pending ethics cases are lobbying firms. In fact, one firm, Oldaker, Belair & Wittie, conducts much of Rangel’s political fundraising, while operating four different lobby shops.

But who’s ultimately paying Rangel’s legal bills? Mostly corporate and union political action committees along with individual lobbyists. Over the past six months, PACs and lobbyists have accounted for a majority of the money Rangel’s campaign has raised this year, not counting transfers from Rangel’s other fundraising operations (more on them below).

In turn, Rangel funnels his campaign cash into his legal defense. In 2009, three-fourths of Rangel’s $2.16 million in campaign spending went to legal fees. The House Ethics Committee allows campaign funds for legal fees that are not “primarily personal in nature, such as a matrimonial action, or could result in a direct personal benefit for the Member.” Otherwise, legal fees are a legitimate use of campaign cash because “the protection of a Member’s presumption of innocence in such actions is a valid political purpose,” the guidelines state.

That means any politically savvy donor who cut a check in 2010 to Rangel’s reelection knew the donation was, in part, a contribution to Rangel’s legal defense — indeed, in the first two quarters of 2010, Rangel’s campaign spent $655,232, with $230,749 (35 percent) going to legal fees. Zuckerman Spaeder LLP got biggest haul of Rangel cash — $182,000. The firm had lobbying clients including one top drugmaker until last year, when the K Street legal shop de-registered as lobbyist.

Er, aren’t these the kind of transactions that got Rangel noticed in the first place?  They may not technically be illegal or violate House ethics rules, but the use of a political campaign war chest for legal defense resulting in part from campaign certainly has an ick factor.

Having lobbyists fund your defense in an ethics trial also gives a rather bad set of optics, too.  Why not just have a personal-injury attorney handle it instead?  It would be less unseemly.  I understand John Edwards is available.  Even that would look better than a K Street defense for Rangel.

Or perhaps this is fitting.  Maybe the House could put K Street on trial right along with Rangel, especially since Democrats spent all of 2008 railing against the lobbying industry as a source of all political evil, and then spent 2009 and 2010 raising money on K Street.  That would certainly be entertaining, but strictly fantasy, too.  I suspect they’ll try to get Rangel to resign before tomorrow’s hearing in order to spare themselves from that reminder of their hypocrisy.  Perhaps they can get a K Street firm to help out by offering Rangel a job, rather than legal representation.

Update: I didn’t notice the typo in the original Examiner reporting, but obviously Rangel has not spent $206 million in 2009 on his campaign.  The paper has corrected it to $2.16 million, which I’ve also changed in the excerpt.  Thanks to Tom N for the heads-up.


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rangel will not resign

rob verdi on July 28, 2010 at 10:14 AM

TOM DELAY IS CORRUPT OR SOMETHING!

/O-bot response

Good Lt on July 28, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Since Thurmond and Byrd passed away, Rangel is the new poster child for term limits.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:15 AM

I was going to guess Robert Bennett.

fourdeucer on July 28, 2010 at 10:17 AM

O/T: From FoxBusiness: SEC Says New Financial Regulation Law Exempts It From Public Disclosure

VibrioCocci on July 28, 2010 at 10:17 AM

good lt,
I read the comments in the cbs informant disaster and that was the exact type of response. Valerie Plame and some other gibberish about Bush. Oh and Sherrod made an appearance as well.

rob verdi on July 28, 2010 at 10:18 AM

The most ethical Congress money can buy.

repvoter on July 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Above the laws that govern you and I…..
Can’t read any more of this, must go to work so that I can pay for those who don’t have.

Keemo on July 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM

Rangle won’t resign. Rangle will win re-election. Rangle will be even more bold in his corruption.

This is what happens when voters allow for “safe” seats.

myrenovations on July 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Tell me Charlie, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?

Inanemergencydial on July 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Hey, what’s all the fuss? Rangel was just one of the most powerful people in the US government and he’s totally corrupt. Nothing to see here, move along.

forest on July 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

the use of a political campaign war chest for legal defense resulting in part from campaign certainly has an ick factor.

you’re not kidding…

i hope they don’t settle prior to the hearing….he needs to sit and squirm in front of america..

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 10:20 AM

If Rangel manages to weasel his way out of this, it will pretty much be the final nail in the Democrats coffin as far as the midterm elections go.

No one they are sweating bullets over this, while wishing Rangel would just plain resign.

pilamaye on July 28, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Just wait. There will be a DOJ mandate not to prosecute black politicians charged with ethics violations.

Disturb the Universe on July 28, 2010 at 10:22 AM

No one they are sweating bullets over this, while wishing Rangel would just plain resign.

pilamaye on July 28, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Correction:

No WONDER they are sweating bullets over this, while wishing Rangel would just plain resign.

My bad.

pilamaye on July 28, 2010 at 10:23 AM

As I noted in Allahpundit’s Rangel Post from last night:

I have seen the future:
The Charlie Rangel Ethics Committee Hearings

Please note: He leaves the toupee at home, but his voice and eyebrows are in fine form.

He does seem mobbed up – the Federal Mob. The Constitutional Cosa Nostra.

juanito on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

They may not technically be illegal or violate House ethics rules,

They should be both illegal and unethical if they aren’t already. That’s plain and simple money laundering right there.

Johnnyreb on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

That means any politically savvy donor who cut a check in 2010 to Rangel’s reelection knew the donation was, in part, a contribution to Rangel’s legal defense — indeed, in the first two quarters of 2010, Rangel’s campaign spent $655,232, with $230,749 (35 percent) going to legal fees.

Isn’t this the exact same thing that got Sarah Palin into trouble recently? Remember how the left howled about it when she (unknowingly) did it?

Rangel is scum.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

We haven’t heard much from Republicans on this … and I’m hoping that’s because they are allowing the Democrats to sweep this under the rug in typical Nancy Pelosi fasion and then …

POUNCE!

HondaV65 on July 28, 2010 at 10:28 AM

O/T: From FoxBusiness: SEC Says New Financial Regulation Law Exempts It From Public Disclosure

VibrioCocci on July 28, 2010 at 10:17 AM

WTF!??!? People need to hear about this!

Joe Caps on July 28, 2010 at 10:28 AM

He also has the CBC sitting in his corner giving the stinkeye to Pelosi and the ethics committee. I want to hear from Barbara Lee, dammit! Loudly and often.

a capella on July 28, 2010 at 10:30 AM

But you don’t understand. Charlie doesn’t care. He thinks his firmament is built outta neutronium and nobody can possibly move him out of “The Adam Clayton Powell” seat. To coin a phrase.

We’ll see about that, lard-butt.

mojo on July 28, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Isn’t this the exact same thing that got Sarah Palin into trouble recently? Remember how the left howled about it when she (unknowingly) did it?

Rangel is scum.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

No that’s not what Sarah Palin did.

Sarah Palin NEVER funneled campaign funds into her legal defense fund.

Best I can tell, her only crime was using the word “official” in “Official Sarah Palin Defense Fund”.

If anyone want to elaborate on that – go ahead, but I think that is the extent of it really.

HondaV65 on July 28, 2010 at 10:30 AM

Democrats are scumbags …

tarpon on July 28, 2010 at 10:31 AM

In 2009, three-fourths of Rangel’s $206 million in campaign spending went to legal fees.

2009 was not an election year. Even if it was, how’d he spend that much money campaigning?! Against whom?

Akzed on July 28, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Akzed on July 28, 2010 at 10:32 AM

I wondered the same thing. That has to be a typo.

Mark1971 on July 28, 2010 at 10:35 AM

The best option might be for Rangel to resign, but the Democrats always have their contingency plan. Lie to the sheeple. It may be shopworn but it still works. The day that it doesn’t, I’ll know we are back on the path to freedom.

Extrafishy on July 28, 2010 at 10:35 AM

In 2009, three-fourths of Rangel’s $206 million in campaign spending went to legal fees.

Um, $209 million in campaign spending? Is that the total for his career, that might make sense (given, what, 40 years) otherwise how in hell does any Representative spend $200 million for a single campaign. Especially one in as safe a district as Rangel.

Maybe there’s a misplaced decimal and it’s $2.09 million?

Washington Examiner needs to clarify this. or else there is something much more sinister going on. I thought Representatives were much cheaper than that.

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM

He said the fund, which was set up while Palin was still governor, inappropriately said it was the “official website” of Palin, and made reference to her work in public office. Petumenos upheld an ethics complaint that was filed 15 months ago against the trust.

Soooo … what Sarah Palin did, was she set up a website for her legal defense fund … and called it (of course) her “official” website for her defense fund. And since it referenced her work in public office also – somehow this could have created some kind of confusion I guess.

She was excoriated by the left for this. But they’re pretty silent on their little “robber-baron” Rangle – who’s actually STOLEN money from the American people and is now flipping campaign money to pay to defend his criminal arse.

By the way – I gave $150.00 to Palin’s legal defense fund in the beginning – and it was returned to me in a check on Monday. I simply endorsed the check back to her NEW legal defense fund and sent it back in the enclosed envelope. Very easy.

HondaV65 on July 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Isn’t it about time for michael steele to plant his foot firmly in his mouth and say something stupid? Maybe he can make it a ‘two-fer’ and defend sherrod & rangel?

Just sayin’

lukespapa on July 28, 2010 at 10:37 AM

Since Thurmond and Byrd passed away, Rangel is the new poster child for term limits.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:15 AM

Don’t forget Daniel Inouye.

Del Dolemonte on July 28, 2010 at 10:38 AM

But who’s ultimately paying Rangel’s legal bills? Mostly corporate and union political action committees along with individual lobbyists.

Washington Examiner

I suppose that Charlie Rangel had his PAC set up without the legal entanglements which Palin encountered with hers.

maverick muse on July 28, 2010 at 10:42 AM

In 2009, three-fourths of Rangel’s $206 million in campaign spending went to legal fees.

Hmmmmmmm. I wonder why someone would be willing to spend $206 million to land a job that pays $165K a year.

The perks must be absolutely incredible.

Oh …….. nevermind.

On a side note, I wonder what the average yearly wage is for one of Charley’s constituents, the dumbasses who have voted him into office 21 times. Hey, who cares right? He’s Black and he’s a D, all the credentials you need.

fogw on July 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Mark my words, prosecution against Charlie Rangel will never happen.

Fred Thompson

Did he repeat himself last night on FOX with Hannity?

maverick muse on July 28, 2010 at 10:45 AM

time to drain the SWAMP!

SDarchitect on July 28, 2010 at 10:47 AM

She was excoriated by the left for this.

HondaV65

Excoriated for returning all donations.

maverick muse on July 28, 2010 at 10:48 AM

I suppose that Charlie Rangel had his PAC set up without the legal entanglements which Palin encountered with hers.

Palin’s problems were Alaskan law issues, not US law issues.

teke184 on July 28, 2010 at 10:49 AM

Fred listed all the things necessary for a successful ethics prosecution. One major point is that Rangel’s constituents admire Charlie all the more for his audacity to officially cheat the system, wishing they could be just like him. He brings home more pork than they ever imagined possible. They adore him.

maverick muse on July 28, 2010 at 10:50 AM

HondaV65 on July 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Thanks for clarifying.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Disturb the Universe on July 28, 2010 at 10:22 AM

wouldn’t be surprised at all…

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

[note: Originally, due to a transposition error, this column had an incorrect number for Rangel's 2009 campaign expenditures. The correct number is $2.16 million.]

Ah, much more reasonable. But why did Rangel still need to spend $1.5+ million on legal fees? In an off year. In such a safe district?

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

haven’t they been investigating this for over a year? he knew he was going to need the monites for legal fees, no?

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 10:57 AM

monites=monies

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Ah, much more reasonable. But why did Rangel still need to spend $1.5+ million on legal fees? In an off year. In such a safe district?

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 10:55 AM

It’s only a safe district against Republicans, not against a primary challenge. He knows that people smell blood in the water and that taking him out now may be the only time to do so before he dies.

Adam Clayton Powell IV knows this well considering that Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was in a position similar to Rangel, both in power and seniority, before his ethics issues got him defeated by Rangel in 1970.

teke184 on July 28, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Washington Examiner needs to clarify this. or else there is something much more sinister going on. I thought Representatives were much cheaper than that.

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 10:36 AM

Not if you’re Chairman of Ways and Means…

CC

CapedConservative on July 28, 2010 at 11:03 AM

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 10:57 AM

teke184 on July 28, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Forgot my /sarc tag. It’s clear that he has to spend this much because there is so much he has to defend himself against. And unlike Palin, these aren’t phony, made up charges that got dismissed quickly because there was nothing there.

Charlie Rangel should not resign from Congress, or simply be allowed to retire. He needs to be frog-marched off to jail.

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 11:04 AM

Keep fighting, Charlie…drag this thing out as long as you can. Let us see all the dirty laundry.

d1carter on July 28, 2010 at 11:05 AM

Palin’s problems were nit-picky weasle words by the same law firm that Obama uses. She had to return all money and she set up a new fund for her defense fund that meets more stringent standards by Alaskan law, although most every lawyer that worked on it thought they had been met. She never used that money. I am about to cash my check and write her a new one. She never, ever used money from SarahPAC to defend herself.
There are very, very strict standards for Sarah(and she meets them all). There are no standards for Charles Rangel and any Democrat. They don’t have to worry about these nit-pickers.

BetseyRoss on July 28, 2010 at 11:09 AM

I hope his trial ends in the second week of November.

Mojave Mark on July 28, 2010 at 11:21 AM

Hey if you are on the legal team, you can’t be asked to testify.

barnone on July 28, 2010 at 11:26 AM

If Alaska had the same rules that the Senate has for legal defense funding for alleged ethics violations, Palin might still be governor.

LASue on July 28, 2010 at 11:39 AM

rbj on July 28, 2010 at 11:04 AM

no worries

cmsinaz on July 28, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Isn’t this the exact same thing that got Sarah Palin into trouble recently? Remember how the left howled about it when she (unknowingly) did it?

Rangel is scum.

UltimateBob on July 28, 2010 at 10:24 AM

No genius, this ISN’T what got Sarah “in trouble.” After a year of “investigation” by a “special investigator” Thomas Daniel,who works for Obama’s law firm, Perkins Coie, and was eventually removed, the only thing they could say was she used the word “official.”

This was done to make sure people knew it was real, because many unauthorized “defense funds” were popping up, and the folks who created this fund wanted to make sure people didn’t get ripped off.

Nice attempt to tie Sarah Palin to Rangel, and corruption though.

gary4205 on July 28, 2010 at 12:02 PM

Resign? You’ve can’t be serious. This man considers himself royalty. He truly does think he’s above the law. He’s not going anywhere without a fight.

I’m sure he’s already got it all planned out. Even if the worst happens, he knows he has 3 months to paint himself as an “outsider” with 40 years of experience with “the man” trying to stick it to him.

He’s going victim status the whole way with this one I think.

Saddest part is he’ll get reelected.

ButterflyDragon on July 28, 2010 at 12:06 PM

I suppose that Charlie Rangel had his PAC set up without the legal entanglements which Palin encountered with hers.

maverick muse on July 28, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Sarah had NO legal problems with her PAC you tiresome, moronic, troll.

gary4205 on July 28, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Democrats spent all of 2008 railing against the lobbying industry as a source of all political evil

No one is in a better position to know about political evil than they.

Lily on July 28, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Rangel will leave WHEN THEY DRAG HIM OUT.

GarandFan on July 28, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Rangel has a personal ‘ick’ factor of large proportions. Sleazy icky crook.

jeanie on July 28, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Surely Harlem must have some younger black men who could do the job better and with more integrity than Rangel?

jeanie on July 28, 2010 at 1:17 PM

I was curious to figure out exactly how big this November will be compared to history, so I have been doing research and I spent the last two evenings making an Excel spreadsheet. It covers the Congressional election results (House of Representatives). I ended up dividing the election history into five eras. The first to eras don’t have any really big swings (party because there weren’t that many seats to be swung and partly because the Democratic-Republicans dominated the Federalists in the first era and the Democrats dominated the National Republicans and Whigs in the second era).

The really big swings are as such:

I. Founder’s Era (1789-1822): The Democratic-Republicans vs. The Federalists

None

II. Second Era (1824-1854): The Rise of New and Third Parties

None

III. Mid-Era (1856-1884):The Rise of the Republican Party

1874- Republican 103 (-96), Democratic 182 (+94) for a swing of 190 seats.

IV. Progressive Era (1886-1948): The Rise of Socialism

1890- Republican 86 (-93), Democratic 238 (+86) for a swing of 179 seats.
1894- Republican 254 (+130), Democratic 93 (-125) for a swing of 255 seats!
1910- Republican 162 (-57), Democratic 230 (+58) for a swing of 115 seats.
1914- Republican 196 (+62), Democratic 230 (-61) for a swing of 123 seats.
1920- Republican 302 (+62), Democratic 131 (-61) for a swing of 123 seats.
1922- Republican 225 (-77), Democratic 207 (+76) for a swing of 153 seats.
1932- Republican 117 (-101), Democratic 313 (+97) for a swing of 198 seats.
1938- Republican 169 (+81), Democratic 262 (-72) for a swing of 153 seats.
1948- Republican 171 (-75), Democratic 263 (+75) for a swing of 150 seats.

V. Modern Era (1950-Present): Strictly Two Party

1994- Republican 230 (+54), Democratic 204 (-54) for a swing of 108 seats.

These are all of the swings of 100 seats or more. Note that in the fourth era there were a lot of large swings. I am trying to figure out why we don’t have these anymore. After 1948, the modern era, we only have the single example in 1994 which was the Republican Revolution.

My current theories as to why we have stabilized so much in the modern era (1950 on) is as such:

1. Television- Television has standardized and swayed opinions for those who lend it much credence (mostly towards the left). Also, television has allowed incumbents an easier avenue towards re-election since it has made it much more expensive for third parties and start-up candidates in the opposition party to compete.
2. Automobile Mobility- Since 1950, we have been a mobile nation. We have no problem these days moving to an area of the country which more agrees with our political views.
3. Gerrymandering- Congressional gerrymandering has become more efficient in protecting incumbents.
4. 2 Party Strengthening- The laws have been changed by the Democrats and Republicans in order to protect their parties and incumbents. From the McCain-Feingold to protect incumbents to many, many laws designed to make it very difficult for third parties to obtain and maintain ballot access, the Democratic and Republican parties have entrenched themselves and their incumbents.
5. Prosperity- The Modern Era has been amazingly prosperous and people tend to stick with the status-quo during long eras of prosperity.

Please, let me know what you think of my these theories. I think it is a combination of all of the above.

Anyways, back to the historical context: in the modern era, it is almost unheard of for a 100+ seat swing to occur, the only exception being 1994 (the year after the last time the Democratic party tried to takeover the Health Care System and they were unsuccessful that time).

I think that this year will be in the 120-140 seat swing range (or greater). We are probably looking at another 1948 or even a 1932 again. (The biggest swing, 1894, is probably way out of the question, but it would be sweet.)

Anyways, we are about to see a swing unprecedented in the Modern Era. Hooray!

Theophile on July 28, 2010 at 2:46 PM

So Rangel can have 3 lobbying firms pay for his defense while in office. Sarah Palin is bankrupted by agitators with frivolous lawsuits and her private defense fund which was imperative due to a loop hole in Alaska law and vetted by DC lawyers is deemed unlawful because the word official was used. The world is up side down.

Buckeye Babe on July 28, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Buckeye Babe on July 28, 2010 at 4:16 PM

We should expect those that write the loopholes to be most skilful at using the loopholes.

slickwillie2001 on July 28, 2010 at 4:58 PM

K-rupt Street comes to this bum’s defense. Makes one wonder what he’s done for these guys in the past don’t it?

chickasaw42 on July 28, 2010 at 6:09 PM

Thank you, K Street lobbyists…

Khun Joe on July 28, 2010 at 8:58 PM