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Ethics Questions Still Hounding Rangel

POSTED: 05:46 PM ET, 12/ 2/2008 by Derek Kravitz


Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) listens during a July 17, 2008, news conference about ethical questions surrounding his fundraising methods on Capitol Hill. (Jim Young / Reuters)

A steady stream of revelations about erroneous financial records and questionable ethics dating back to July has put the spotlight once again on New York Rep. Charles B. Rangel, prompting observers to wonder aloud whether it's time for Rangel to step down from his committee chairmanship.

The Democratic chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee has been at the center of a seemingly endless swirl of questions about his activities. He came under fire this week after The New York Times reported that Rangel worked to protect a tax shelter for Nabors Industries, an oil company whose chief executive was pledging $1 million to a school bearing the congressman's name.

The executive, Eugene M. Isenberg, also personally pledged $200,000 to the City College of New York, where the public policy school is named for Rangel. Last year, the company won congressional approval to preserve its tax shelter in the Caribbean, saving Nabors tens of millions of dollars annually and depriving the federal treasury of $1.1 billion in revenues over a decade, according to a Congressional analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.

The recent disclosures have hurt Rangel's standing in the House, political watchers say.

"Republicans have tried to tie Democrats to Rangel, and some Democrats have begun to say privately that Rangel should step down in order to allow them to press ahead, undistracted and untainted, with President-elect Barack Obama's plans for dealing with the economy," Politico reports.

Problems surfaced for Rangel in July when the 19-term congressman acknowledged that he hoped his personal requests contained in letters to foundations and corporations would bring in donations to the academic center.

In a letter to the House ethics committee, Rangel confirmed that he sent at least 150 letters on congressional stationery to philanthropic and business leaders as part of his efforts to support the new Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

The congressman separately asked the House Ethics panel to look into his rental of four New York apartments at below-market rates, The New York Times reports. City and state guidelines require such dwellings to be used as a primary residence. Rangel has said that he would give up one apartment that he uses as a campaign office.

The congressman earlier had said that his living arrangements were a "personal issue" that the ethics panel should not examine.

In September, Rangel hired a forensic accountant to evaluate his financial disclosure and other records. Several Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee backed the longtime lawmaker as pressure mounted from Republicans urging him to step down.

In that same month, the House ethics committee launched a formal investigation to determine whether Rangel had broken House rules with several reported lapses in his personal finances and fundraising.

Last month, Rangel's legal team began probing whether the lawmaker received a homestead exemption on a house he owned in Washington while living in his rent-stabilized apartments in New York City, The New York Times reported. The New York Post first reported the existence of the exemption.

By Derek Kravitz |  December 2, 2008; 5:46 PM ET
Previous: Nuclear or Bio Attack Called Likely, U.S. to Expand Tax Inquiry, Former Detroit Mayor's Aide Pleads Guilty | Next: Bush Wiretap Law Faces Legal Challenge

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Can you understand why the American people are cynical and do not trust these law makers? The citizens of our Nation are repulsed by these legislators who feel they are above the law and have this "holier than thou" attitude. They act is if they are untouchable! Our Senators and House of Reps. are voted into public office to serve the people. They can easily be replaced...This is one of the reasons why I am a firm believer in shorter term limits especially for senate seats.

Posted by: Rhonda5 | December 2, 2008 10:02 PM

When it rains, it pours for poor Charlie. He's caught up like so many others in the "it's always the little things" syndrome. What's that? See

http://saturdaymorningpost.com/2008/09/12/the-little-things/

Posted by: writingfrontier | December 2, 2008 11:44 PM

Another traditonal Republican inquisition. Nobody has gone after McCain given his well known gambling sprees with the backing of boys in Vegas. Yes, Charlie is guilty of some sloppy housekeeping. Give me a break. Next.

Posted by: TrueBlue2 | December 3, 2008 9:56 AM

At least the Republican crooks didn't get to steal Social Security.
Imagine....on the brink of the most horrible economic depression in world history...& the crooks in the Justice Dept. continue to waste millions of taxpayer dollars, targeting Democrats, while hiding their own crimes.
Imagine...they are still going through the private phone/email records of "enemies" at companies like Verizon...

but the Republican Operatives in the Justice Dept. prefer to squander law enforcement resources ...ignoring the potential catastrophies such behavior promises.
So while Trillions of taxpayer dollars go unaccounted for the children of Alberto Gonzales continue to do what the WANT to do, rather than focusing their efforts on preventing future terror attacks, as was the case prior to 9/11.
Remember? Then Republican operatives were focused on Bill Clinton's private sex life...while known terrorists were taking flight lessons. It makes you want to puke.

Posted by: mikepiedmont | December 3, 2008 11:14 AM

He chairs the committee that writes the tax laws that he then breaks.....
This story hasn't made the front page yet, at least not that I have noticed.
George Allen's "maccaca" comment spent weeks on the front page.....I wonder why?

Posted by: ready11960 | December 3, 2008 9:23 PM

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