Friday, July 23, 2010

Blue State Graft Watch: Charlie Rangel to Face House Ethics Investigation

Former House Ways and Means chair Charlie Rangel (D: NY-15) is facing a series of ethics violations laid out before by investigators from the US House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Rangel stepped down in March amid criticism after it was discovered he was accepting corporate money to attend conferences in the Dominican Republic. However, the current House investigation will be scrutinizing other reported ethics violations on the 21-term Congressman representing Harlem. These include:
—His use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.

—Whether he had the Ways and Means Committee consider legislation that would benefit donors to the Rangel Center at the same time the congressman solicited donations or pledges.

—Preserved a tax shelter for an oil drilling company, Nabors Industries, which has a chief executive who donated money to the center while Rangel’s committee considered the loophole legislation.

—Used four rent-controlled apartment units in New York City, when the city’s rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one’s primary residence. This raises the question of how all the units could be primary residences. One was a campaign office, raising the separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.

—Whether Rangel, as required, publicly reported information on the financing and rental of his ownership interest in a unit within the Punta Cana Yacht Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Rangel also had to pay back taxes on the rental income.

—Intentionally failed to report — when required — hundreds of thousands of dollars or more in assets. The amended disclosure reports added a credit union IRA, mutual fund accounts and stock.
Although the 80 year old Congressman said he looked forward to clearing his name, he got rather testy when MSNBC's Luke Russert asked Rangel if he was concerned about losing his job over the ethics investigation to which Rangel replied:
“It doesn’t really sound like NBC asking these dumb questions, but it just shows what has really happened to a channel that did have some respect.”
UPDATE- 7/24: It now looks as though Congressman Rangel is paying his legal defense bills with campaign contributions.

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