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U.S. House Ethics Panel Announces New Charges Against Rangel

Representative Charles Rangel
Representative Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, listens during a news conference. Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg

U.S. Representative Charles Rangel of New York faces new House ethics charges following a two-year investigation of his travel, personal finances and fundraising for a college center named for him.

Rangel, a Democrat, stepped aside in March as chairman of the House tax-writing committee after the chamber’s ethics panel admonished him for accepting corporate-sponsored travel in violation of a House rule.

The Committee on Standards and Official Conduct announced the new charges yesterday against Rangel, 80, though it didn’t disclose the nature of the allegations. A hearing will be convened July 29 by a bipartisan adjudicatory subcommittee, the statement said.

“I look forward to responding” to the charges, Rangel told reporters. “I have waited a long time” and “at long last the sun will be piercing over the cloud I have been carrying for almost two years.” He said he couldn’t discuss the charges because “I would not know exactly what their findings are.”

Rangel has served in Congress since 1971. He won election after successfully challenging Representative Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in the 1970 Democratic primary. He is being challenged this year by Adam Clayton Powell IV for the party’s nomination.

Rangel said he hopes “this will be aired before the September primary and certainly before the November election.”

“Live on C-SPAN”

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said in a statement that plans for a public hearing on the charges --“the equivalent of a trial, live on C-SPAN” -- were a “sad reminder” of the promise by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she would “drain the swamp in Washington.”

An investigating subcommittee has been looking into whether Rangel failed to disclose income from a rental villa he owns in the Dominican Republic and misused four rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan.

Rangel, who referred his own case to the ethics committee two years ago saying he expected to be vindicated, has amended five years of his financial disclosure statements to include more than $500,000 in investments he had previously omitted.

The ethics panel has been investigating whether Rangel preserved a tax loophole for oil driller Nabors Industries Ltd. after its chief executive pledged $1 million to the Charles Rangel Center, a school of public service at City College of New York. He has also been investigated for using congressional stationery to contact potential donors for the Rangel Center.

Watchdog Group

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-profit watchdog organization, called on Rangel to resign from Congress.

“The notoriously lax ethics committee has found substantial reason to believe that Representative Rangel has violated federal law, House rules, or both,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Representative Rangel has toughed it out as long as he could; the time clearly has come for him to resign.”

California Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat and chairwoman of the full ethics committee, will lead the adjudicatory subcommittee that will consider the evidence against Rangel, the statement said. Republican Representative Michael McCaul of Texas will be the ranking member, and six other members will also hear evidence.

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