Morning Business: Legal Longevity

Posted January 28, 2009 at 5:56pm

Ex-Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) has given up his House seat, but he isn’t ready to do the same with his legal defense fund.

[IMGCAP(1)]“As you know, I have retired from Congress, and this filing will be my final disclosure to the Committee,” Doolittle wrote in a Jan. 23 letter to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, which catalogued the defense fund’s most recent receipts and disbursements.

“At this point, I have not terminated the Trust, as matters related to its purpose are ongoing,” he added. The documents did not include the fund’s most recent balance.

Doolittle has been haunted by his relationship with disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff and by payments to his wife from his campaign treasury.

Getting the Band Back Together. In an indication that the House ethics panel could soon renew its probe of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Republican and Democratic leaders tapped three lawmakers Tuesday to serve on an investigative subcommittee in the 111th Congress.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) named Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to the subcommittee.

All three lawmakers served on the investigative subcommittee constituted in late 2008 to examine questions raised by media reports about Rangel’s personal finances.

The subcommittee, which also included Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), who is now the ranking member on the ethics panel, expired at the close of the 110th Congress and the full committee must vote to renew the investigation in order to continue its work.

The panel was established to examine Rangel’s fundraising efforts on behalf of a City College of New York center named in his honor. It later expanded that inquiry to include an alleged quid pro quo of legislation in exchange for donations to the college.

In addition, the inquiry included Rangel’s ownership of a villa in the Dominican Republic and his failure to report rental income on that property, which led to unpaid taxes; Rangel’s use of House parking facilities for long-term vehicle storage; and Rangel’s use of three rent-controlled apartments as his primary residence.

Rangel has denied any wrongdoing related to his fundraising efforts, but he has acknowledged the unpaid taxes.