Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hedge Fund Industry Behind Congressman Rangel's Troubles

After 38 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, suddenly Congressman Charlie Rangel wakes up to almost a hit piece a week in New York City newspapers.

In July, the New York Times reported on Rangel's four rent controlled apartments. In August, the New York Post first reported on Rangel's "beachfront villa in a sun-drenched Dominican Republic resort." Yesterday, NyPo followed up with another attack on his failure to report income from the villa. Then there was the report of Rangel using his official congressional stationary to solicit money from constituents for a Columbia University Center to encourage minority participation in government.

This stuff the papers are focusing on is all in a days work for a ranking congressman. It is generally, impossible to get newspapers to feature stories about it. But, as the second scandal broke, we wrote, "Somebody is out to get...Ways and Means Committee chairman, Congressman Charlie Rangel....Reports like this don't come out by accident. Somebody that is very powerful is after Rangel."

The Ways and Means committe chair has always been a hot seat.

Rep. Wilbur Mills (1957-1974) was removed via a set-up affair with a stripper, Fannie Fox; Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (1981-1994) was forced out in a concocted House Post Office scandal, and President William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901, had previously been Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

Now it's Rangel's turn. Who is powerful enough and has the money to sponsor and fund the takedown this time?

Wall Street friends tell us that it is the hedge fund and private equity industries.

The hedge fund and private equity industries have targeted Rangel because of his legislation in the House that would have taxed the earnings of hedge fund and PE managers at a 35% income tax rate, instead of the current capital gains rate they pay of 15%. Rangel's legislation for a tax increase on the fund managers passed the House 233-189, but it was blocked in the Senate.

Now it's time for Rangel to experience payback.

One Wall Street insider said to me, "This is almost as much fun as taking out Eliot Spitzer."

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