Panel Created for Rangel Inquiry

Posted September 24, 2008 at 6:33pm

The House ethics panel voted Wednesday to establish an investigative subcommittee to examine a multitude of allegations that Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) violated the chamber’s rules.

According to a statement issued by the panel, the four-member subcommittee will examine Rangel’s ownership of a Dominican Republic villa, living arrangements, use of House parking facilities and fundraising efforts on behalf of a City College of New York center bearing his name.

“The investigative subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Rangel violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct applicable to his conduct in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities,” the statement read.

The statement did not specify whether a special counsel will be hired for the investigation, a suggestion put forth by ethics ranking member Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) last week.

The panel will be led by acting Chairman Gene Green (D-Texas) and Hastings, along with Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.).

Although House rules prohibit the ethics panel from accepting a complaint against a Member within 60 days of an election, those rules do not apply to the investigation into Rangel because the New York lawmaker requested the inquiry himself.

Prompted by press reports earlier this month, Rangel has acknowledged that he failed to report rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic on tax forms and Congressional financial disclosure forms. He has estimated that he owes $10,000 in back taxes and penalties.

The Ways and Means chairman has said he will hire a forensic accountant to review all of his financial disclosure forms and tax records for the past 20 years.

In addition, Rangel earlier sought an inquiry into his lease of four rent-controlled apartments in New York and his fundraising for the City College center named in his honor.

The ethics panel announced in August it would examine both of those matters.

And in its Wednesday statement, the panel said it would look into all three instances, as well as Rangel’s alleged use of a House parking facility to store an automobile despite rules prohibiting long-term storage of vehicles.