The House Ethics committee announced yesterday that it will expand its long-running probe into Charlie Rangel’s financial affairs — and Republican-led efforts are heating up once again to oust the beleaguered New York congressman from his post as chairman of the House Ways and Means committee.
We round up and rank the allegations against Rangel, from venal down to moronic.
1. A Tax Break Benefits A Contributor
Rangel reportedly worked last year to preserve a lucrative tax break for an oil-drilling company, at the same time the company’s C.E.O. was pledging $1 million to a City College of New York educational center he had helped create, which was to be named in his honor. This is the only clear example of a possible quid pro quo in the list of charges — though Rangel has said his protection of the tax break was not connected to the donation.
2. Failing To Report Assets
In late August, Rangel filed amended Congressional financial disclosure forms, admitting that he had earlier failed to report $660,000 worth of income and assets. The new disclosures, which prompted the Ethics committee to expand its inquiry, included tens of thousands of dollars in rental income from a Harlem brownstone Rangel sold in 2004, 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.
3. More Tax Problems
Rangel has received over $75,000 in income from a rental villa he owns in the Dominican Republic, but disclosed this income neither on his tax returns nor on Congressional disclosure forms. He has called the disclosure failures an oversight, and has paid over $10,000 in back taxes and penalties.
4. Fast And Loose With Rent Control Rules
Rangel reportedly rents four rent-stabilized apartments in the same Harlem building, at well below market rates. He reportedly uses one of them as a campaign office. City and state regulations prevent the use of rent-controlled apartments for purposes other than as a primary residence.
5. Using His Office To Raise Money
Rangel used his Congressional office letterhead to solicit donors for the C.C.N.Y. educational center.
6. Caribbean Junkets
Rangel and four other Democratic lawmakers took trips to the Caribbean that were funded and organized by an organization called the Carib News Foundation. These may have broken House rules on corporate-funded travel.
7. No Ordinary Parking Violation
Rangel’s Mercedes was towed last September from the House parking lot last fall, because he had flouted rules barring the storage of vehicles for more than 45 days and requiring them to have license plates and a valid House parking sticker.
Although no formal investigation has substantiated these charges, most aren’t in dispute. Republicans say that taken together, they mean Rangel’s not the best person to be in charge of writing our tax laws. But ultimately, that’ll be up to the Democratic leadership.