Despite reports of a deal, the House ethics panel just began its first public meeting on the charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). And for the first time, we’re hearing the charges.
The panel is charging Rangel with 13 violations. They fall into four groups:
One, violations regarding fundraising Rangel did for a City College educational center named after him.
Two, errors Rangel made on his financial disclosure forms.
Three, inappropriate use of his rent-subsidized apartments in Harlem.
Four, his failure to report taxable income with regards to a rental villa in the Dominican Republic.
The WSJ and others reported before the hearing that Rangel had already reached a sort of plea deal with the committee. For now, that seems to not be the case.
None of the charges are surprising, though we’re still digging through the specific violations.
Rangel has acknowledged the errors on his financial disclosure forms and filed amended ones. He’s also paid back taxes on the rental villa income.
As far as the fundraising, it’s been reported that Rangel allegedly used his official Congressional letterhead to solicit donations. There have also been allegations that he preserved a tax break for a wealthy donor to the center.
His four apartments in Harlem have also been widely reported.
The ethics panel’s “statement of alleged violation” can be found here (PDF), and below.
Late update: We’ve had a chance to look at the charges more closely. The ethics panel is charging that Rangel improperly solicited donations for the Rangel Center by using official Congressional letterhead, having staff work on donation materials during work time and soliciting donations from Capitol Hill.
It also alleges that there’s the appearance of a quid pro quo, as several lobbyists he solicited for donations had business before Rangel’s tax committee.
The panel also charges Rangel with improperly using rent-stabilized apartments — which are legally strictly residential — for campaign work.