11:08 am Oct. 16, 20122
Last week, a spokesperson for Rep. Charlie Rangel was skeptical when I first inquired about a Mississippi gun dealer that appeared to have named a short-barrel assault rifle for the longtime Harlem congressman.
The only explanation on the website for Mississippi Auto Arms was: "Like Rangel, this little Suchka AK rifle loves the green and hides well in spinach."
The store's owner, Nathan Yow, eventually got back to me and confirmed that the firearm was, in fact, named for the congressman, and that it was inspired by Rangel's support for gun control, his ethics investigation, and some disparaging comments he once made about Mississippi.
Yow told me the description of the gun on the site was an "homage" to Rangel and William Jefferson, Rangel's former colleague in the Congressional Black Caucus who is currently serving time in federal prison for bribery.
"To exploit the Congressman's good name to sell an assault rifle in his store is utterly disrespectful to the Congressman, who is a decorated veteran," said Hannah Kim, a spokesperson for Rangel, in an email yesterday.
Here's Kim's whole (detailed) response:
The shop owner's allegation that the Congressman 'loves the green' and is virtually corrupt is completely false. As those who file taxes know, in some years they owe money, and in some they are due a refund. Congressman Rangel, too, overpaid in some years, and underpaid in others. The Congressman hired a forensic accountant to review his tax returns. He filed amended tax returns, which resolved the matter with the IRS.
As to the comment in which the owner says he'd liked to have seen a prosecution of the Congressman -- He should know that the Ethics Committee's Chief Counsel, after two years of investigating, explicitly stated there was no corruption or personal gain to the Congressman: 'I see no evidence of corruption,' Blake Chisam, the top ethics committee lawyer, said at the end of a two-year investigation in response to questions from Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). 'Do I believe that based on the record that Congressman Rangel took steps to benefit himself based on his position in Congress? No. I believe that the congressman, quite frankly, was overzealous in many of the things he did. And sloppy in his personal finances.'
To exploit the Congressman's good name to sell an assault rifle in his store is utterly disrespectful to the Congressman, who is a decorated veteran.