Rangel Says He’s Unafraid of Ethics Panel’s Findings

Posted July 22, 2010 at 5:41pm

Rep. Charlie Rangel said Thursday that he has no “fear at all politically or personally” about an upcoming House ethics committee hearing to determine whether he violated the chamber’s rules.

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 the New York Democrat broke House rules or even ran afoul of the law. The panel has been investigating allegations involving Rangel’s personal finances, fundraising efforts and other issues for nearly two years.

A special adjudicatory panel has been called to review the matters in a proceeding similar to a trial. It is set to organize July 29.

“For over two years I’ve been asking them to look at this and to throw out what I believe has no substance,” Rangel said in an interview with reporters in the Capitol that was recorded by ABC News. “I don’t know what’s going to happen on Thursday. It’s all in their hands.”

He later said: “If you ask me how I feel about it, I feel extraordinarily good that my supporters over 40 years will be able to evaluate what they have come up with. And I don’t have any fear at all politically or personally what they come up with. I don’t feel badly. Why would I feel bad when I’ve asked them for two years? So this is it. It’s what I’ve been waiting for, and we’ll see what happens.”

Rangel first asked the ethics committee in July 2008 to review his use of multiple rent-controlled apartments in New York and his use of House stationery to raise funds for a City College of New York center bearing his name.

The investigation expanded in December 2008 to include allegations that Rangel engaged in a legislative quid pro quo with a company whose chief executive promised a donation to the same City College center.

The ethics subcommittee also examined Rangel’s personal finances because he acknowledged in 2008 that he failed to report the rental income from a Dominican Republic vacation home and owed about $10,000 in federal and state taxes. It also looked at his financial disclosure forms after he filed amendments in 2009 that revealed more than $600,000 in assets and other income that he had not previously reported.

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

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.

Both the ethics committee’s counsel and Rangel will be allowed to present evidence during the public hearing. 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.

Rangel stepped down from his perch at the Ways and Means Committee in March after the ethics panel admonished him for his involvement in two Caribbean trips that violated House rules on corporate funding. In that case, the ethics panel found that six House lawmakers violated the chamber’s rules but criticized only Rangel because it found his staff was aware of the conflict.

An admonishment is not a formal sanction, however, and did not require the committee to hold public hearings.