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Rangel Calls for House Inquiry

POSTED: September 09, 2008, 12:00 am

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Facing several critical newspaper reports, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Chairman of the Committee on Ways & Means, is calling for an ethics investigation into his personal finances.

Rangel, one of the longest serving Members in the House of Representatives and the dean of the New York delegation, has been faced with questions over his finances since initial reports several weeks ago revealed his rental of several subsidized apartments in a Harlem condominium. Critics charged the congressman with violating New York City’s rent control statute and federal campaign finance laws. One of the apartments Mr. Rangel was renting was being used as an office. He subsequently announced he would surrender that unit. He also faced questions over his fundraising activities for a public policy center named in his honor at City College in New York.

In July the House ethics committee announced it had begun an investigation, at Rep. Rangel’s request, of these matters but there is no indication when it will be concluded and when a finding will be issued. The work of the committee is up in the air after the sudden death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio, who suffered an aneurysm and died suddenly last month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has yet to name a permanent successor to Rep. Tubbs-Jones on the committee.

The most recent accusation stems from a vacation home Rep. Rangel owns in the Dominican Republic. The New York Times ran a front page story last Friday in which the paper reported that Rangel did not report rental income from the property on his federal or state income taxes, or his annual congressional financial disclosure form. A second article in the paper reported that Rangel did not pay interest during most of his seven year mortgage on the property. Despite the headline of the New York Times article, the amount questioned in the report was only $75,000; a fairly insignificant amount given the fact that Rep. Rangel has owned the property since 1988. Still, his position as the head of the tax writing committee in Congress brings some unwanted attention and scrutiny to the powerful New York lawmaker.

Rep. Rangel is expected to issue the request to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct this week. His office has been referring all inquiries into the matter to his attorney, Lanny Davis, the former Special Counsel to President Clinton. Despite the current controversy, Rep. Rangel remains one of the most revered and compelling figure on Capitol Hill and enjoys bipartisan support from his many years on the Hill. There is no indication that Speaker Pelosi and the leadership of the Democratic Caucus is wavering in their support of the Harlem congressman or seeking to temporarily change his leadership status on the Committee on Ways & Means.

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