Rangel Brushes Off Ethics Charges

Posted March 22, 2009 at 11:05am

Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Sunday brushed aside the allegations against him that are being investigated by the House ethics committee, saying no one in Congress has charged him with any wrongdoing.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,— Rangel said that the charge against him “has no merit and has no facts,— and he repeatedly asserted that no one outside of the press — he specifically called out a New York Times reporter — has made allegations and that there has “been no accusations coming from the Congress.—

Rangel said several times that “no one other than a reporter has accused me.— When pressed on why the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has not issued a ruling in the matter, which is now six months old, Rangel cited the holiday break and other Congressional recesses as a potential reason for the inquiry taking so long.

“Maybe your question should be how long has the Congress been in session during those 6 months,— Rangel told “Fox News Sunday— host Chris Wallace.

The ethics panel is currently reviewing several items pertaining to the Ways and Means chairman.

Among the accusations included in an ethics subcommittee’s review are questions about Rangel’s fundraising efforts on behalf of a center at the City College of New York named in his honor, including his use of official stationery. In December, the committee announced it would expand the investigation to include an alleged quid pro quo of legislation for donations to the college. Rangel has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

In addition, the ethics probe includes questions regarding Rangel’s lease of three rent-controlled apartments in his district — the lawmaker earlier released a fourth unit he had utilized as an office in the same building — and his use of House parking facilities for long-term vehicle storage.

The investigation also focuses on 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 has defended his actions but has since paid those taxes.

The New York lawmaker first sought the ethics probe in mid-July 2008 and continued to request new investigations in response to subsequent news reports airing new allegations. The ethics panel first indicated it would examine Rangel’s fundraising efforts in August but did not opt to create the subcommittee until September.