A star-studded lineup of New York City Democrats, including former mayor David Dinkins, and former state comptroller Carl McCall, held a a rally on the steps of City Hall today in support embattled Harlem congressman Charlie Rangel.
Citing Rangel’s long record of public service, Dinkins told the crowd: “Folks seem to have a short memory.”
Rangel has for over a year been the subject of a probe by the House Ethics committee, focused on several financial irregularities, including his admitted failure to report $660,000 worth of income and assets. Republicans have tried unsuccessfully to have him ousted as chair of the House’s top tax-writing committee.
Some speakers at the rally — which was organized by Ken Sunshine, the veteran New York P.R. guru and Rangel supporter — slammed the media for going to hard on Rangel.
“The level of hysteria is totally out of context,” said David Jones, the head of a New York non-profit. “Where is the balance? Everything makes him out to look like he’s on the take.”
Jones described Rangel’s missteps as “shoddy book keeping.” “The amounts of money are minuscule,” he said. “I raise the question whether any of us could make the standard.”
Others questioned the motives of Rangel’s persecutors, saying race and politics played roles. “Race is part of it, not all of it,” said Rev. Calvin Butts, the influential and politically connected pastor. “He just happens to be a very powerful Democrat.”
It was reported today that the House ethics committee will clear Rangel and several other lawmakers of any wrongdoing in taking privately financed trips to the Caribbean.