Sunday, November 02, 2008


The majority of readers who responded to an unscientific poll on my column's blog believe that Rep. Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.) should step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, as a result of his failure to include in his tax return rental income from a vacation home he owns in a Dominican Republic resort.

Neal White of Atlanta shares the opinion of 66 percent of my readers who believe that Rep. Rangel should step down from his committee post.

"Absolutely, Congressman Charlie Rangel should resign his post as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," White writes.

Should his misstep also cost him his seat in the House? Yes, replied 19 percent of my respondents.

But 15 percent of those taking the poll said that Rangel should keep both his seat and his chairmanship.

"Tax laws are convoluted," writes William Jacobson of Cypress, Calif., "and any of us might be guilty of the same lapse under IRS review. Let him do what the rest of us do: Pay the lapse, pay a (probably very stiff) fine and move on."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)


weezie said...

He should lose his charmanship and his seat. He's not like "the rest of us". He is an elected official. I doubt that this was a "lapse" on his part. I don't believe he forgot about that rental income. If all of our elected officials who have "misstepped" were ousted we might actually have a government that works in the best interest of the people. Instead of paying for his misstep, Rep. Rangel will probably be rewarded by being reelected.

Bill Jacobson said...

Rep. Rangel has neither been convicted of tax evasion nor has the House Ethics Committee yet decided the severity of his tax lapse, so it is entirely premature for anyone to be calling for loss of his chairmanship, let alone his resignation.

This smacks far too much of the political staturing and false indignation that runs rampant preelection. After tomorrow, none will have the political will to pursue these matters. Given the likely Democratic sweep of Washington, none will have the political power to do so either.

Ethics are the standards that we all live by. Rep. Rangel should not be prejudged due to his willingness to hold political office nor where in the election cycle a discovery is made.