Rangel Asks for an Inquiry

Request Is His Third Recently

Posted September 8, 2008 at 6:41pm

House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) will call for an ethics committee investigation into his personal finances this week, the third time in recent months the senior Democrat has formally asked the panel to conduct an inquiry into his activities.

The New York lawmaker will ask the panel to review his failure to report the rental income from a Dominican Republic vacation home on his annual financial disclosure forms or his federal or state income tax filings, Rangel’s office announced.

A Rangel spokesman said Monday that the lawmaker will issue the request to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct this week, but he deferred questions on the matter to Rangel’s attorney, Lanny Davis.

Davis did not return a telephone call Monday afternoon.

The House ethics committee announced in late July that it had undertaken, at Rangel’s request, a review of two unrelated matters on his living arrangements and use of rent-controlled apartments in New York, and his fundraising efforts for a City College facility bearing his name.

When those investigations will conclude, however, remains to be seen.

Ethics Chairwoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) suffered an aneurysm and died unexpectedly last month, prompting questions over who will lead the panel.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has the sole power to appoint that post, has not said publicly who will take up the gavel. But a senior House aide said Monday that Rep. Gene Green (Texas), the next senior Democrat, is expected to serve as acting chairman for the duration of the 110th Congress.

That decision would leave one Democratic seat open on the evenly divided panel, however, and Pelosi has not yet indicated whom she will tap for that position.

Other committee Democrats include Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Bill Delahunt (Mass.).

The committee continued to operate during the August recess, issuing informal advice to Members and aides.

Committee staff could continue to pursue open investigations with Green serving as acting chairman — aides would otherwise be constrained from expanding inquiries to additional sources or conducting new interviews, steps that would normally require the chairman’s and ranking member’s approval. But some decisions, such as whether to empanel an investigative subcommittee, could be delayed until the committee is once again at full capacity.

“These kinds of matters could go forward, at least to the point where there has to be some full committee decision made, at which point if there are not equal numbers of Members on both sides it could become an impediment to progress,” said Rob Walker, who has previously served as the top aide to both the Senate and House ethics committees and is now at the Washington, D.C., firm Wiley Rein.

According to the New York Times, Rangel earned more than $75,000 in income from the property in the Dominican Republic since 1988.

A subsequent New York Times report revealed that Rangel did not pay interest during the majority of a seven-year mortgage for his vacation home. The resort where the home is located waived the interest for Rangel and other investors after the property generated less income than expected.