Island Rum Fight Fattens Rangel's Coffers

Campaign cash pours in from Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2009 1:30 PM CDT
Captain Morgan and US Virgin Islands Governor John deJongh strike the pose with the Morganettes and security during the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Aug. 27, 2008.   (Jack Dempsey/AP Images for Captain Morgan)
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(Newser) – 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. (Read more Charles Rangel stories.)