The NY Times writes that coming ethics trials of Reps. Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel are signs of a heightened sensitivity to ethical issues in Congress. Nothing wrong with that. The article also notes that — and this is no defense — the convergence of political contributions (or contributions to favorite charities) and legislative action are intertwined in the official lives of virtually every member of Congress. Rangel is by no means the first member to offer official help to people who'd just given him or a related party money.
I like Rangel. He's a war hero, equally tough politically and smart. I've actually been somewhat less concerned by the nexus of charitable contributions and his work (routine for members of the Senate, as he's noted) than by the funny business detailed by investigative reporting on his below-market apartments and tax shortcomings on personal property. It's just hard to believe the former Ways and Means chairman didn't know better.