I am deeply saddened by the report of tax evasion by Congressman Rangel.

I came to know Charlie when he first ran for political office under the sponsorship of J. Raymond Jones (the “Harlem Fox”). Ray was at that time NYC’s most powerful politician. Bobby Kennedy had come to him to ask support for his brother’s presidential campaign.

Ray was an enigmatic figure to most media and politicians of that day. Only those close to him knew him to be the primary reformer of what had been a corrupt Harlem political cabal, ready to sell out to the highest bidder from downtown. Charlie was one of Ray’s early choices to bring honest politics to Harlem.

I happened during the summer of 1963 to be preparing for my first teaching position and Ray had kindly given me a job as his assistant to tide us over between the ending of graduate fellowship support and a paycheck.

I remember Charlie storming into Ray’s office once to protest some scurrilous literature attacking his campaign opponent. Charlie, a veteran who had been wounded in WW2, was horrified. I recall Ray saying to him, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” It was not clear who had put out the literature — I don’t believe that either Charlie or Ray was involved. Rangel did not need such support as an honored war veteran and Ray’s candidate.

I guess that money can corrupt almost any. Certainly Charlie did not need to build a fortune with his Congressional pay and benefits. If he and not some personal financial manager was responsible, then he surely should resign to allow an honest person to replace him. How sad after such an otherwise positive and constructive political career.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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