A testy Charles Rangel yesterday brushed off accusations that he had enjoyed special treatment in occupying four rent-controlled apartments, reports the New York Times. The veteran Democratic congressman denied he had a "sweetheart" deal with his landlord and slammed the Times article that started the controversy. The 78-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee expressed pride in being a lifelong Harlem resident, and said he pays the "maximum legal rent" for the units.
Asked he if thought it was fair for him to take up four units, three as a residence and one as an office, when there is a shortage of affordable housing in the city, Rangel said, “The question of fairness is so subjective.” At one point in the sidewalk press conference he was accosted by angry residents who accused him of ignoring their complaints about people being evicted. Asked by a Times reporter why he didn't disclose his rent discounts on his financial disclosure reports, Rangel shot back: “Paying the legal rent is not a gift. Are you doing this deliberately, or are you just stupid?”