Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Castro Picks Up Rangel’s Tab

In yet another instance proving New York has the worst Congressional delegation in America, Rep. Charlie Rangel is now facing ethical questions over a trip to Cuba. The Center for Public Integrity reports Rangel accepted reimbursement from the Cuban government for himself, his wife and son to tour the island gulag in April 2002, even though House rules only allow for one comped relative on such trips. Rangel has stroked a check to Cuban government to cover his son Steve. Rangel also filed an amended travel report with the House, because his original disclosure forms only listed an environmental organization, the Sian Ka'an Conservation Foundation, as the sole sponsor of the tour.

Of course the New York media can’t work up much enthusiasm for covering ethical lapses of a powerful Democrat. The Times buries the story of Rangel’s trip halfway through a story on junkets, below the travels of Rep. Thomas Bliley, a Republican from Virginia.

Rangel is the dean of the New York delegation. Someone of his stature inappropriately accepting travel funds from a foreign government should be a front page story. The fact that it was an oppressive government, hostile to American interests is even more scandalous.

Rangel has long been an advocate of normalization with Cuba. He should know better. Rangel, to his credit, has been a longtime supporter of jazz. He briefly appeared at the Jazz Foundation’s Apollo benefit concert in May. If he actually talked to musicians who endured Castro’s rule, like Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval, he would have a clearer picture of the realities of Cuba, than what he saw as a “fully hosted” guest of the regime.