Holes in disclosure


The New York Times reports on the cushy arrangement Rep. Charles Rangel has with his landlord, the Olnick Organization. Last month, we also learned that the CEO of Countrywide Financial, Angelo Mozilo, gave preferential mortgage deals to Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and to Sen. Kent Conrad. With the exception of a mortgage Conrad had on an investment property, none of these arrangements had to be disclosed to the American people. Personal financial disclosure laws exempt personal residences from reporting — including terms of mortgages and arrangements with landlords. Given what we know about Dodd, Conrad and Rangel, should we continue to exempt their residences from disclosure?

Here are some details from the Times report on Rangel:

While aggressive evictions are reducing the number of rent-stabilized apartments in New York, Representative Charles B. Rangel is enjoying four of them, including three adjacent units on the 16th floor overlooking Upper Manhattan in a building owned by one of New York’s premier real estate developers.

Mr. Rangel, the powerful Democrat who is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, uses his fourth apartment, six floors below, as a campaign office, despite state and city regulations that require rent-stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence.

Mr. Rangel, who has a net worth of $566,000 to $1.2 million, according to Congressional disclosure records, paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for the four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem’s most prestigious address.

The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel’s building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.

Hat tip to InstaPundit and Jammie Wearing Fool, who both highlight Rangel’s wonderful response to the Times when questioned on his arrangement: “Why should I help you embarrass me?”