House Details 13 Violations against Rep. Charles Rangel

Article excerpt

The 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel include allegedly failing to report $600,000 in income and improper fundraising for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.

Last-minute negotiations between the House ethics panel and embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York faltered Thursday, setting in motion a trial of the 20-term lawmaker as early as September. After 21 months of work, a special investigative subcommittee on Thursday detailed 13 charges against Rangel in a 40- page Statement of Alleged Violation. The subcommittee said it had "substantial reason" to believe that serious violations related to the performance of official duties by a member had occurred.

The alleged violations include: failure to report more than $600,000 in income on financial disclosure statements, improper use of rent-stabilized apartment to benefit Rangel's own campaign committees, failure to report and pay taxes on rental income on a beach villa, and improper solicitation of funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

IN PICTURES: Ethically challenged Congressmen

"Both foundations and the solicited corporations had business and interests before the House during the period at issue," the subcommittee concluded. "In some instances, lobbyists on behalf of the corporations were communicating with [Rangel's] staff about both legislative issues and potential donations to the Rangel Center. The resulting donations create an appearance of impropriety." There's a wide gap between how the panel describes Rangel's actions and how he defends them. "[Rangel's] pattern of indifference or disregard to the laws, rules and regulation of the United States and the House of Representatives is a serious violation," the investigative subcommittee wrote in a July 22 letter, released Thursday.

The investigatory panel also complained that Rangel had made misleading statements to the news media, including a statement on July 7 - 21 days after the 13 counts of alleged violations had been sent to him, that "there is no accusation against me doing something wrong except by the press."

Rangel did not attend Thursday's hearing - an organizational meeting to publicly present the charges - but he told reporters just before the panel convened that "If I have the opportunity, rest assured I would welcome the opportunity to talk about it. …