By Mark Memmott
Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York confirmed to reporters this evening that the House Ethics Committee has admonished him for accepting a corporate-funded trip to the Caribbean, NPR and Reuters are reporting. But the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee also questioned the committee's conclusion.
NPR's David Welna reports that Rangel says the committee has stopped short of bringing formal charges. David adds that:
"The ethics committee's probe found that trips made by five members of the Black Congressional Caucus to the Caribbean were improperly paid for by corporations. Four members were exonerated, but Rangel says the ethics panel imputed responsibility to him. He maintains the trip was approved by the ethics panel and that two staff members failed to inform him and the panel of the corporate funding.
"Rangel said he was surprised at being admonished. It's not clear whether the ethics report will imperil his chairmanship of the tax-writing committee."
The Associated Press, which was the first news outlet to report about the committee's finding, has a slightly different take on the story at this time and refers to multiple trips:
Rep. Charles Rangel says an ethics panel's finding against him is "disturbing" and promises he will have more to say about it after he consults with his lawyer. Rangel read a report by the House ethics committee that found he knowingly accepted Caribbean trips from a corporation in violation of House rules. At least four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were also on the 2007 and 2008 trips were exonerated by the panel, a congressional source familiar with the findings told The Associated Press.
The New York Times says the committee's conclusion "led to quick condemnation from Republicans, who have made the powerful congressman a frequent target.
"Once promised to be the 'most ethical Congress in history,' the Democratic majority now has a serious ethics scandal on its hands thanks in-part to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, according to the Times.
We'll update this developing story in the morning.