A bipartisan House ethics panel unveiled today 13 violations that Rep. Charlie Rangel faces dating back to 2005. So far a reported deal with the committee’s investigators hasn’t been finalized and there’s still no word on a possible punishment. See the panel’s entire statement of of alleged violations here.
It’s the latest news in a saga that’s gotten progressively ugly. Although Rangel didn’t attend today’s hearings (he sent his legal team instead), he knew the day would be tough.
“Sixty years ago, I survived a Chinese attack in North Korea, and as a result I haven’t had a bad day since,” the combat veteran told the Wall Street Journal. “But today, I have to reassess that statement.”
Rangel has thus far attempted to brush off the charges and has enjoyed the support of his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues as well as party leadership. But support for the Harlem lawmaker has dwindled in recent days as Republicans have used the investigation against him as evidence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s failure to keep her party in check. He’s still denying the charges, which Talking Points Memo broke down into four groups: violations in fundraising for a City College educational center; errors on financial disclosure forms; inappropriate use of rent-subsidizes apartments in Harlem; and failure to report taxable income from a rental home in the Dominican Republic.
The infractions also include allegations that Rangel sent solicitation letters to corporate-affiliated charities, including ones with ties to Verizon, Ford Foundation, AT&T, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Wachovia, among others, in an effort to raise $30 million. As the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rangel played a key role in setting tax rates on all of these companies, reports Politico.
Verizon also reportedly gave $500,000 to the Charles Rangel Center at the City College of New York.
For his part, Rangel’s already acknowledged errors on his financial disclosure forms and filed new ones, while also paying back taxes on the rental home. Yet there’s still no word on where he stands with his four rent-subsidized Harlem apartments, at least one of which was reportedly used as a campaign headquarters.
In an attempt to appease frustrated voters, Pelosi told reporters earlier today that she wants all the charges to come to light. “The panel will work; it’s bipartisan; the political chips will have to fall where they may,” reported the Wall Street Journal.
The fallout could reach beyond party lines. Heading into midterm elections in November, both parties admit that Congress already had some serious credibility issues. And Rangel knows it, too. Yesterday he told reporters that he didn’t expect fellow lawmakers to risk their seats by speaking out publicly in his favor.