Open Letter to the CommunityBy Jose B. Rivera
East Harlem - September 18, 2008. Congressman Rangel e-mailed this open letter to the community. East Harlem.com presents it here for your information: The campaign season has begun, and to no great surprise, I’m now a Republican talking point. But I assure you, I’ve brought no dishonor to my family, the Congress, my constituents, or my country. My Democratic colleagues in the House - and, privately, many Republicans - have rallied on my behalf. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team have embraced me while denouncing Republican politics as usual. My colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee and members of the New York delegation are standing tall by my side. Most importantly, my family, neighbors, constituents, pastors, and community leaders are solidly with me.
Last July, the Republican Party declared guerrilla war against Democrats and since then has made every effort to smear me and members of my party. It wasn’t enough that they had denied 10 million American children healthcare, blocked extension of unemployment benefits, and tried to scuttle $2 billion in promised 9-11 recovery funds for New York.
My record in the Ways and Means Committee and 38 years in Congress is unassailable, so they’ve pried into my private life and used insinuation and half-truths to write stories that sell papers – what car I drive; where I live; where I vacation with my family; and how I handle my personal finances. They’ve piled on, even questioning my motives for raising funds for a public college in my district.
I’ve never violated the public trust, so I’m not worried. I’ve laid all the available facts on the table and answered every allegation, all of which were based on inaccurate newspaper stories. At my request, the Ethics Committee is investigating whether I’ve committed any errors of omission. Independent experts are being called in to correct any mistakes in my government filings. In the meantime, my work as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has not been affected in any way.
For now, nothing is more important than victory in November. So, I’ll continue doing my best to help elect Barack Obama president and to expand the Democratic majority in Congress. At stake are all the hopes of Americans to turn this country around and ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren.
The devastating meltdown of the economy has made even clearer the urgent need for an end to policies that favor war over prosperity and greed over fairness. Next year, the nation’s priorities must be the creation of jobs, health care for all Americans, the best education for our children, security for our seniors, and the restoration of fairness to our tax system. Those aspirations will be realized only with President Obama in the White House and a strong progressive-minded Congress behind him.
Thank you for the prayers and all of the support over the years.
Charles B. Rangel
Member of Congress