Charlie Rangel Owes a $23,000 Civil Fine

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 18:  U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) participates in a television interview before the House went into recess for the Thanksgiving break on November 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. With a deadline looming, the Joint?Select Committee on?deficit?Reduction will continue working to cut trillions of dollars from the budget before the Thanksgiving deadline.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Photo: Mark Wilson/2011 Getty Images

Harlem Democratic Representative Charlie Rangel, who just announced a run for his 22nd term, now finally knows the exact dollar punishment he’s stuck with from his long-simmering ethics scandal. The 81-year-old Rangel’s been charged a civil fine of $23,000 for accepting a rent-stabilized apartment and then using it to run his campaign, a maneuver that (when adjusted to market rate) put his campaign contributions over the legal limit. (Actually, he had four apartments in the same building, which was in part the tip-off to the impropriety.)

It’s a far less damaging punishment than the censure Rangel received from the House Ethics Committee, not just for his N.Y. apartment, but for income-tax and fund-raising slipperiness as well. The settlement isn’t a terribly large one, especially when you consider that Rangel probably has some cash on hand — he was paying just $630 for an apartment that probably should have commanded $1,700. Jealousy from rent-gouged New Yorkers over that crazy deal might just be more likely than all the ethics violations to hurt his reelection campaign.