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House panel charges Rangel with ethics misdeeds

WASHINGTON — A House investigative committee on Thursday charged New York Rep. Charles Rangel, 80, with multiple ethics violations, dealing a serious blow to the former Ways and Means chairman and complicating Democrats' election-year outlook.

The House ethics committee won't reveal the specific charges until Thursday in a public meeting. The Associated Press, citing sources familiar with the allegations who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, reported the charges against the 40-year Democrat were related to:

• Use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.

• Use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city's rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one's primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.

• Failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker's rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.

The charges by a four-member panel of the House ethics committee sends the case to a House trial. A separate panel of four Republicans and four Democrats will decide whether the violations can be proved by clear and convincing evidence.

Sanctions can range from a damaging committee report to censure by the House and even expulsion, a punishment reserved for only the most egregious violations.

Rangel, who is tied for fourth in House seniority, told reporters he believes the allegations have no substance and said, "I look forward to airing this thing."

"If you ask me how I feel about it, I feel extraordinarily good that my supporters over 40 years will be able to evaluate what they have come up with and I don't have any fear at all politically or personally what they come up with," he said.

In a written statement, Rangel said, "I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media."

Rangel was in negotiations to settle the case, but talks broke down when he only agreed to accept some of the alleged violations, and that didn't satisfy the ethics committee.

Rangel led the tax-writing Ways and Means panel until he stepped aside in March after the ethics committee criticized him in a separate case — finding that he should have known corporate money was paying for his trips to two Caribbean conferences.

His trial could begin around the time of his Sept. 14 primary. Rangel recently announced a bid for a 21st term. One of his primary opponents is Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the congressman whom Rangel defeated in 1970.

House panel charges Rangel with ethics misdeeds 07/22/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 22, 2010 11:35pm]
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