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The New York newspaper publisher who organized an annual Caribbean conference attended by some members of the Congressional Black Caucus pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to Congress about how the 2007 trip was financed.
Karl Rodney, publisher of the Carib News, admitted Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that travel documents he provided to the House Ethics Committee in 2007 did not accurately disclose the private sponsors of the trip to Antigua and Barbuda. Rodney stated on the forms that Carib News Foundation, of which he was the CEO, was the sole sponsor of the trip. In fact, the Members’ travel and lodging were provided “by the foreign host country and a private corporation,” the Justice Department said.
Rodney is scheduled to be sentenced July 22. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The Ethics Committee ruled in February 2010 that five Democratic Members who had traveled on the Carib News trips in 2007 and 2008 — Del. Donna Christensen (Virgin Islands) and Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Mich.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Donald Payne (N.J.) and Yvette Clarke (N.Y.) — had unknowingly violated House rules against accepting privately sponsored travel. The Members were directed to repay the costs of the trip.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was admonished by the committee for accepting the same trips, on the grounds that his aides knew the true source of the funding for the travel.
The Ethics Committee also admonished one of its own former staffers, Dawn Kelly Mobley, saying she “improperly influenced” the information that Rodney provided to the committee during its review of the trip.
Under House rules, every Member or aide must obtain the Ethics Committee’s consent for privately sponsored travel, including a certification from the sponsor that the trip conforms to the chamber’s rules. Members are not allowed to accept multiple-day travel from private entities that employ lobbyists, but they may accept travel from nonprofits that are supported by private companies.