Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rep. Charles Rangel Stays Amid New Charges

"As lawmakers return to the Capitol for the fall's epic battle over health care reform, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) appeared likely to retain his chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, despite new allegations about his tangled finances and fresh calls for the Harlem Democrat to relinquish his leadership post.

Although Rangel has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing, he has been under investigation by a House ethics committee for nearly a year, following published reports alleging a broad array of financial improprieties.

These include allegations that the chairman of the House's top tax-writing committee failed to report income derived from a beachfront villa he owns in the Dominican Republic; falsely listed a Washington, D.C. residence as his primary address when he was living in rent-stabilized apartments in New York City; used congressional letterhead for fundraising purposes; and helped a wealthy donor to a school bearing Rangel's name establish a lucrative tax shelter in Bermuda.

Nearly a year after the New York Times called on Rangel to step aside as chairman of Ways and Means - and House Democrats successfully blocked a resolution introduced by Republicans to censure him - the capital is hearing fresh calls for Rangel to turn over his gavel while the various ethics investigations remain underway.

These came in the wake of Rangel's acknowledgment, in updated financial disclosure forms filed late last month, that he failed to report more than $660,000 in assets during 2007. The assets included a credit-union checking account worth up to half-a-million dollars, stock in PepsiCo, some mutual fund investments and a handful of vacant lots in southern New Jersey.

In an editorial, The Washington Post echoed the Times, urging Rangel to step down from his chairmanship, and congressional Republicans swiftly followed suit."

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