House Leaders Stick to Party Lines on Rangel Investigation

Posted July 22, 2010 at 6:51pm

House leaders split along partisan lines Thursday in their reactions to an ethics committee announcement that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) will face an adjudicatory panel over allegations he violated House rules.

A spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did not mention Rangel by name in a statement Thursday. “The action today would indicate that the independent, bipartisan Ethics Committee process is moving forward,” Nadeam Elshami wrote.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement mentioning the ethics process, but it largely criticized Democratic legislative priorities.

“Today’s announcement is a sad reminder of Speaker Pelosi’s most glaring broken promise: to ‘drain the swamp’ in Washington,” he said. “Instead of presiding over ‘the most honest, most open, and most ethical’ Congress in history, Washington Democrats have presided over a string of bailouts, job-killing government takeovers, and other backroom deals. They are simply running out of steam — and out of credibility — as the American people continue to ask ‘where are the jobs?’ Republicans are offering better solutions to get people working again and make government more accessible and accountable to the people it serves.”

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, the formal name for the ethics committee, announced Thursday that an investigative subcommittee found substantial reason to believe that Rangel broke House rules or even ran afoul of the law.

The committee has been investigating Rangel’s personal finances, fundraising and other matters for two years. It reviewed his use of multiple rent-controlled apartments in New York; his use of House stationery to raise funds for a City College of New York center bearing his name, as well as allegations that he engaged in a legislative quid pro quo with a company whose chief executive promised a donation to the center; his personal finances, including his failure to report the rental income from a Dominican Republic vacation home and his late payment of about $10,000 in federal and state taxes; his financial disclosure forms and amendments filed in 2009 that revealed more than $600,000 in assets and other income that he had not previously reported; and allegations he misused a House parking space for vehicle storage.

The ethics committee statement released Thursday did not detail the alleged violations or whether they include the potential abuse of House rules or laws. Rangel said in a statement Thursday that he would not respond to the specific allegations until the ethics panel makes them public.

“I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,” he said in a statement.

The adjudicatory panel, which will determine whether Rangel violated House rules or broke the law, will be led by ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) will also be on the panel.

If the adjudicatory panel finds Rangel in violation, the full ethics committee must then hold a public sanction hearing to determine a punishment or vote to make a recommendation to the full House.

Sanctions that the committee may hand down for violation of House rules include a letter of reproval, reprimand, censure and expulsion.