CaribWorldNews, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tues. Oct. 20, 2009: A New York congressman facing an ethics inquiry has been given a top honor by the Jamaican government.
Congressman Charles Bernard Rangel of Harlem, NY, who is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for alleged financial and tax improprieties, was on Monday honored with the Order of Jamaica by the Bruce Golding administration at the National Heroes Day ceremony in Kingston.
Rangel, according to a government statement, was `honored for outstanding contribution in promoting the interests of Jamaica and the Caribbean.`
The Order of Jamaica is the fourth of the five ranks in the Jamaican honours system. The Order was established in 1969, and is considered the equivalent of knighthood in the British honours system.
Membership in the Order can be conferred to any Jamaican citizen of outstanding distinction. Honorary membership in the Order can be conferred to any distinguishing citizen of a country other than Jamaica.
The congressman, who recently managed to hold on to his job as the head of the powerful Ways and Means Committee despite a bid by Republicans to unseat him, was honored along with the world`s fastest man, Usain St. Leo Bolt.
Congressman Rangel has been beset by controversy and scandal recently. Rangel, whose district, encompasses Upper Manhattan and includes such neighborhoods as Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, Morningside Heights, and part of the Upper West Side, as well as a small portion of Queens in the neighborhood of Astoria, has been accused of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental income or pay taxes on a beach rental property in the Dominican Republic, allegedly living in multiple rent-stabilized apartments in New York City while claiming his Washington, D.C. home as his primary residence for tax purposes, allegedly using congressional stationery to solicit donors for a public policy institute in his name at City College, and taking a Caribbean trip courtesy of the Carib News foundation without approval.
On September 24, 2008, the House Ethics Committee announced an investigation into Rangel`s alleged questionable activities. Rangel ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, challenging long-time incumbent Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in 1970. Ironically, Powell at the time had become embroiled in an ethics controversy in 1967. Rangel has won re-election every two years since. As of January 2007, Rangel is the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and Chairman of the Board of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He is currently the fourth-longest serving Democratic House member, behind John Dingell, John Conyers and Dave Obey.