America

Rangel Ethics Charges Released By House Panel

Charles Rangel

Rep. Charles Rangel walks to his office after voting on Capitol Hill. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Alex Brandon/AP

What amounts to an indictment of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) for alleged financial misbehavior and misusing his office was released by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

The litany of charges against the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee tracked with what's been in media reports for about two years, especially the New York Times.

Still it was impressive to see them laid out in a document that looked like it was prepared by a prosecutor. Rangel was accused of 13 specific violations of House ethics rules.

Investigators found evidence that Rangel misused his congressional office to raise money for a center of public service to be created in his honor at the City College of New York, a venerable institution located in his congressional district.

According to the Statement of Alleged Violation, Rangel asked for donations from private foundations and corporations to the center which was to named after him.

He used the free postage he receives as a member of Congress, known as the franking privilege, and his official congressional stationery for the solicitations.

Indeed, Rangel was on the board of one of the foundations which wound up giving money to the project.

What's more, in 2005 after the CCNY center received a total of $1 million from the CEO of the Nabors Co. and the company itself, Rangel, met with Nabors and a lobbyist to talk about a tax situation in which Nabors looking for some tax relief.

At the time, Rangel was the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee which writes the nation's tax laws.

Also among the charges are allegations that Rangel failed to report income he earned from a rental property he owned in the Dominican Republic and a New York brownstone. He also failed to report on his disclosure forms various financial accounts, according to the document.

Rangel was also charged with benefiting from the use of a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem that he actually used as a campaign office and political action committee while misstating that it was for living purposes.

Again, the list of alleged violations laid out in the document is impressive.

And for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who with her fellow Democrats won House control in 2006 with vows to "drain the swamp" of corruption that existed when Republicans held the majority, the document would seem devastating.

Among the documents the committee issued Thursday was a letter from the lawmakers who head the investigative subcommittee to overall committee's leadership. It contained this paragraph:

Respondent's pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations of the United States and the House of Representatives is a serious violation. The Investigative Subcommittee found substantial reason to believe that Respondent's actions and accumulation of actions did not reflect creditably on the House in violation of clause 1 of the Code of Conduct.

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