Charles Rangel’s campaign coffers are bulging with campaign cash from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, but he insists that’s in no way influencing his decision on the competing rum tax bills each territory is pushing. “Besides Puerto Rico, you are the only one who has asked about it,” he told a Washington Times reporter. At stake: The Virgin Islands' pact to lure Captain Morgan’s distillery from Puerto Rico.
The Virgin Islands plied Captain Morgan with big subsidies, paid from the federal rum tax money returned to the territory. Puerto Rico’s preferred bill would vastly limit those subsidies, while the Virgin Islands would stabilize that tax stream. Rangel, head of the powerful Ways and Means committee, is crucial to either bill. So Puerto Rico has shot to his second-largest source of donations, behind only New York. The Virgin Islands have long occupied a top-10 spot.