In a gesture of solidarity with Harlem's many struggling residents, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has announced that he will vacate one of the four rent-stabilized apartments he currently maintains in the Lenox Terrace luxury complex. The unit in question, a one-bedroom costing Rangel just $630 each month, currently serves as a campaign office, a cozy arrangement that quite clearly violates city and state rent-stabilization guidelines (he's holding on to his two-bedroom, his other one-bedroom, and his studio). But as the New York Times notes, the immaculately dressed Congressman isn't out of the woods yet:
While it appears legitimate for Mr. Rangel to have one rent-stabilized apartment for his home, some Congressional ethics experts question whether his acceptance of the additional units, given at the discretion of the landlord and not generally available to the public, violates the House of Representatives' ban on members accepting gifts of more than $100.
Under House ethics rules, a gift is defined as any "gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value." And some suggest that the difference between what Mr. Rangel pays for the second, third and fourth apartments and the market rate could fit that definition.