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Ethics Panel Admonishes Rangel; Members Must Pay for Trips

The ethics committee also ruled that Kilpatrick, Thompson, Payne, Clarke and Christensen “did not knowingly violate any provision of the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct ... with respect to the acceptance of payment or reimbursement for travel to either or both of the Carib News Foundation Multi-National Business conferences held in 2007 and 2008.”

But the ethics committee found that Rangel did violate the House gift rule for accepting payments or reimbursements for those same trips because his aides had knowledge of an improper funding for the trips, although he himself did not.

“The evidence shows that members of Representative Rangel’s staff knew that corporations had contributed funds to Carib News specifically for the 2007 and 2008 conferences,” the committee wrote. “This information was not provided to the Standards Committee when he sought and received approval from the Committee to accept these trips.”

The committee continued: “The Committee does not find sufficient evidence to conclude ... that Representative Rangel had actual knowledge of the memoranda written by this staff. However, the report finds that Representative Rangel was responsible for the knowledge and actions of his staff in the performance of their official duties.”

Rangel said Thursday that the ethics committee had approved the trip. “We were approved, the trip was approved. Whether or not it should have been approved is a serious issue,” he said. “I’m just saying that the critical part in the report is they’re saying that the ethics committee should not have authorized it if they’d known all of the facts.”

Rangel said he was unaware that private funds helped pay for the trip when he made it.

“Of course not. It was approved by the ethics committee. I had no idea, hell no,” he said.

The ethics committee also admonished one of its own former aides, Dawn Kelly Mobley, who served as counsel to then-Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), for her role in approving the trips.

Mobley “improperly communicated confidential internal Committee information to officers and employees of Carib News, Karl Rodney and Patricia Lewis, and that she improperly influenced the information provided by Karl Rodney and Patricia Lewis to Standards Committee staff during the Committee’s review of the 2007 Multi-National Business Conference,” the statement read.

The statement does not detail Mobley’s actions.

The ethics committee also announced that it referred information related to Rodney, Lewis, and another Carib News Foundation employees, Faye Rodney, to the Justice Department for further review. The committee asserted that the trio submitted “false or misleading information to the Committee during its pre-travel review of the 2007 and 2008 conferences and again when providing sworn testimony to the Investigative Subcommittee.”

Rangel also said Thursday that he met with the ethics committee about a month ago to discuss other areas of their investigation into his finances. Asked if the panel had given him a sense of the timing of that report, he said, “They always do but they’re never on time.”

The ethics committed launched a review in September 2008 to review Rangel’s personal finances, including his failure to report rental income from a Dominican beach house.

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