AZI PAYBARAH | Capital New York
Charlie Rangel, the dean of the New York congressional delegation, has blamed Republicans for the 2010 House ethics investigation into his fund-raising and legislative activities which drove him from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel alsoÂ complains frequently about the way the media treats him and other Democrats.
Today, he married those two themes when I asked him about State Senator Malcolm Smith, the chair of the Senate's Independent Democratic conference, who was arrested and charged yesterday with trying to bribe his way into the Republican mayoral primary.
"Malcolm Smith was all right until he left the Democratic Party," the congressman told me shortly before the start of the National Action Network's annual conference in midtown this morning. "I don't know any of the people that he was involved in this corruption with, but it proves to me, whether in religion, academics, you try to shortcut the system, if you try to poison the well that you drank from, it doesn't work out. And I feel so sorry for him and his family. And, really, don't see that this will have any impact on the Democratic Party."
Rangel added, "It just seems as though something happened within the Republican Party, and surprisingly the press doesn't go to any of them asking how they feel. But I've been deluged with questions, which, I'm not complaining, but it just seems to me that it is a serious Republican problem."
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer was standing nearby when Rangel was speaking and took away a slightly different lesson from the scandal.
"It's time for real reform" of the distribution of City Council member items, he said.
Part of the scandal involved City Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican from Queens, who allegedly promised to steer $80,000 in member items to a nonprofit group in exchange for direct cash payments and campaign donations.
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