A New York Times editorial complaining about Rep. Charles Rangel's ethics asserts, "as the committee chairwoman, Zoe Lofgren, pointed out, the committee has repeatedly advised Mr. Rangel since 2008 that he could set up a defense fund to raise the money, which he has not done....He certainly should know that House rules prohibit pro bono lawyers in such circumstances to avoid the appearance of legal favoritism, and that anyone who faces the committee had better find a way to pay for a good defense."
This is Washington-New York Times craziness. To defend himself against "ethics" charges that the voters of your district have had the chance to consider yet have resoundingly restored you office, Mr. Rangel is going to be forced to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the people and businesses he regulates? One or more of the "ethics" charges relates to Mr. Rangel raising money for City College. That was supposedly unethical. Yet the same committee and Times editorialists who say it is unethical for Mr. Rangel to raise money for City College say it is not only ethical, but required for him to raise money for a legal defense against the ethics committee? Accepting pro bono legal assistance would indebt Mr. Rangel only to a single lawyer or law firm. Raising money for a broad-based defense fund puts him in the debt of many more potential political favor seekers. The Times's assertion that Mr. Rangel "had better find a way to pay for a good defense" is absurd. What's he supposed to do? Get a side job? He doesn't have a Sulzberger-scale inheritance at his disposal.
The Times editorialists may want to consult Anthony Lewis, their retired Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist and legal correspondent, who told the story of the right to counsel in his book Gideon's Trumpet.