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Much of Harlem still firmly behind Rangel

Things aren’t looking so sorry for Charlie, at least in his home turf.

Troubled U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel may be facing multiple ethics charges in the House, but he still has plenty of support in Harlem, where the 80-year-old political powerbroker has represented the neighborhood for nearly 40 years.

“I have no qualms about the man,” said Kevin Short, manager of Amy Ruth’s, a soul-food Harlem institution. “Politicians cheat all the time. Other politics have done … far worse.”

Still, not everyone was feeling so rah-rah about Rangel.

“Politicians are supposed to work for the people,” said a manager of the Gospel Uptown restaurant, who declined to give his name. “Most likely he won’t get reelected anyway.”

A House committee hit Rangel with violations last week, including abusing official stationery and improperly using rent-subsidized New York apartments. On Thursday, a House ethics committee is expected to disclose the charges against Rangel, who was stripped of his powerful Ways and Means Committee chairmanship in March.

Rangel is up for re-election in November, and four challengers have expressed an interest in running for his seat. But some Harlemites aren’t ready to break ranks with him yet. Rangel said on Friday that he looks forward to a public airing of the charges and will fight to clear his name.

“In Harlem, there’s nothing but support for him,” said Courtney Bennett, an official with the New York City Mission Society, a long-standing neighborhood community center. “I want to make sure whenever he leaves Harlem, he leaves with the dignity he deserves.”


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