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Pelosi Asks House to Hold Off on Calls for Rangel’s Gavel

Updated: 12:30 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday called for the House to await the outcome of pending ethics investigations into Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) personal finances before addressing whether he should forfeit his gavel — despite the committee’s decision to admonish him in an unrelated investigation Thursday.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly known as the ethics committee, announced Thursday night that after a nine-month investigation into travel sponsored by the Carib News Foundation in 2007 and 2008, it found that the trips violated House gift rules because of prohibitions on corporate contributions and that it had approved the trips based on “false and misleading information.”

The committee exonerated five of the six Members of wrongdoing — Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) — but admonished Rangel after ruling that his staff were aware that some of the funding came from prohibited sources, even if he himself did not know.

“What I understand, I haven’t seen the report. ... He did not violate the rules of the House. I think that’s an important statement that they made. There’s more to Mr. Rangel’s situation, and we look forward to hearing from the ethics committee on that,” Pelosi said in a Friday press conference.

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

The ethics panel is examining Rangel’s lease of three rent-controlled apartments in his district — the lawmaker earlier gave up a fourth unit that he had used as an office in the same building — and his use of House parking facilities for long-term vehicle storage, which is prohibited.

In addition, the investigation is focused on Rangel’s fundraising efforts for a City College of New York facility named in his honor. In December 2008, the ethics panel expanded the investigation to include an alleged quid pro quo — legislative action in exchange for donations to the college. Rangel has denied any wrongdoing in the matter. The ethics committee expanded its investigation a second time to add Rangel’s August 2009 disclosure of more than $500,000 worth of assets that he failed to previously report on his annual personal finance disclosures.

“Obviously, they have other issues to deal with. But I thank them for taking this action. I hope that they will have other action soon. But they did not take action against him. They just said he did not willfully break the rules. But we’ll just see what happens next, what comes out of the ethics committee next,” Pelosi said.

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