Trouble isn’t over yet for Rep. Charlie Rangel.
The New York Post reports that the Federal Elections Commission is investigating a complaint made against Rangel, alleging that he illegally used PAC funds to pay lawyers defending him in a House ethics investigation.
Rangel (D-NY) was censured last week by the House, the first member to receive such a punishment since 1983. The censure stemmed from an ethics committee investigation into a series of violations by Rangel, including failing to disclose income and soliciting donations for an educational center using official Congressional resources.
The investigation, requested by Rangel, took two years. Rangel said his legal fees topped $2 million and his lawyers left him before the ethics hearing because they were worried he couldn’t pay additional fees. Rangel tried unsuccessfully to get his hearing postponed because he had no lawyers, arguing that he didn’t know he could set up a legal defense fund until a few weeks before the trial.
The National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog group, has filed its complaint last month claiming that Rangel paid part of his legal fees using his National Leadership PAC. Lawmakers are only allowed to use their personal campaign committees or specific legal defense funds for legal fees.
The Post reported recently that Rangel apparently paid $400,000 worth of legal fees from his PAC.
A search of the PAC’s FEC filings show $293,000 in payments to Rangel’s former lawyers at Zuckerman Spaeder LLP over 2010. The Post and the NLPC also say that a $100,000 payment from the PAC to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe was a payment for Lanny Davis’s legal services.