Last week, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders wrote to Pelosi: Given Chairman Rangels continuing ethical lapses, he cannot effectively carry out his duties as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. On Sunday the New York Times published an editorial calling for Rangel to step down as well.
Davis said Rangel decided not to step aside while the various investigations are pending because he believes that facts should prevail, not innuendo or editorial opinion or the partisan actions of the House Republican leadership. And his colleagues agree with that judgment.
Davis said the ethics committee has already contacted him about the New York apartment and the CCNY letters and is looking into them. But ethics committee rules prohibit the panel from investigating any complaint filed within 60 days of an election when the target of the complaint is a candidate. It is not clear whether that rule which could delay an investigation into the Dominican matter also applies when it is the candidate himself filing the complaint.
In a half-hour meeting in the Ways and Means offices Tuesday afternoon, Rangel assured members of the New York delegation he was moving to pay his back taxes and had no intention of giving up his gavel, participants said.
Mistakes were obviously made, but hes owned up to them and obviously hell set them right, Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) said after exiting the meeting.
Rangels Democratic colleagues on the Ways and Means panel likewise said they are rallying around their chairman. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), considered a rising star on the committee who could be a possible replacement if Rangel stepped down, said, There is no vacancy. And I dont know of anyone whos breaking ranks on the committee.
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), another committee member, said support for Rangel on the panel has been unanimous. Theres a very strong feeling among Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee that Charlie Rangel has not only been a superb chairman, but his 38 years in the House entitles him to better treatment than hes getting from the press, frankly, and from Republicans, Davis said.
Republicans have been trying to turn up the heat on the controversy by targeting vulnerable Democrats who have benefited from Rangels prolific fundraising help, calling on them to return the contributions and demand Rangel step aside from Ways and Means.
Mark Begich, the Democrat challenging Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) for his Senate seat, announced Tuesday that he would give to a local charity a $10,000 donation that he received from Rangels political action committee in June.
A spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon that said: In a time of financial crisis, Democrats are proudly standing by an individual who not only circumvented the very tax hikes he himself has authored, but then escaped responsibility by claiming he is incapable of keeping his own financial house in order.
Jennifer Bendery and Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.