"NEWS broke last week that Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, lived rent- free for years in the home of Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.) - and failed to disclose the gift, as congressional ethics rules mandate. But this is only the tip of Emanuel's previously undisclosed ethics problems.
Emanuel never declared the substantial gift of free rent on any of his financial-disclosure forms. He and De Lauro claim that it was just allowable "hospitality" between colleagues. Hospitality - for five years?
Some experts suggest that it was also taxable income: Over five years, the free rent could easily add up to more than $100,000.
Of course it is taxable income. Anyone can give anyone up to $10,000 a year tax-free, but "gifts in kind" are still required to be reported and are taxable. If it is really $100,000 worth it exceeds the giftable amount and is subject to tax, just as certainly as it is if you get a chauffeured car and driver (aka Daschle)
What's worse though is this:
Nor is this all that seems to have been missed in the Obama team's vetting process. Consider: Emanuel served on the Freddie Mac board of directors during the time that the government-backed lender lied about its earnings, a leading contributor to the current economic meltdown.
The Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight Agency later singled out the Freddie Mac board as contributing to the fraud in 2000 and 2001 for "failing in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention." In other words, board members ignored the red flags waving in their faces.
The SEC later fined Freddie $50 million for its deliberate fraud in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Meanwhile, Emanuel was paid more than $260,000 for his Freddie "service." Plus, after he resigned from the board to run for Congress in 2002, the troubled agency's PAC gave his campaign $25,000 - its largest single gift to a House candidate.
Oh that's nice.
We've now got a chief of staff who served on the board of Freddie Mac while they were flim-flamming their books?
Now THAT is "Change We Can Believe In"
PS: President Obama, if you truly didn't know about this, you need to fire Rahm today. If you did know about it, you need to resign.
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