House investigators accused veteran New York Rep. Charles Rangel of 13 violations of congressional ethics standards on Thursday, throwing a cloud over his four-decade political career and raising worries for fellow Democrats about the fall elections.
The allegations — which include failure to report rental income from vacation property in the Dominican Republic and to report more than $600,000 in assets on his congressional financial disclosure statements — came as lawyers for Rangel and the House ethics committee worked on a plea deal.
One was struck, people familiar with the talks said, but Republicans indicated it was too late.
The deal between the lawyers will have little meaning if the committee members don’t approve it, and Republicans said at the proceeding they were insisting on going forward with a trial. The panel is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.
“Mr. Rangel was given multiple opportunities to settle this matter. Instead, he chose to move forward to the public trial phase,” said Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, the senior Republican on the ethics panel
Chairman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has made clear that she wants the committee to be unanimous — leaving little chance for agreement without Rangel capitulating on virtually all counts.
Many Democrats had urged Rangel to settle the case to avoid the prospect of televised hearings right before November congressional elections that will determine which party controls Congress next year.
However, as Thursday’s public airing of the charges drew nearer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem resigned to the case proceeding.
“The chips will have to fall where they may politically,” she told reporters. Pursuing ethics cases against House members is “a serious responsibility that we have,” she said.
The alleged violations of House standards of conduct also include using congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a center for public service to bear Rangel’s name on the New York campus of the City College of New York.
Rangel was also accused of accepting a rent-stabilized property in Manhattan for his campaign office and initially not paying federal taxes on the Dominican Republic property.
The ethics panel said Rangel failed to report rental income on his original tax returns for 1998 through 2006 from the Dominican Republic villa. It also said he violated federal laws in addition to House ethics rules, including the 1989 Ethics Reform Act, Postal Service laws and government service codes.
The ethics charges, agreed upon after a two-year probe, were read in a public session of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the ethics committee is formally known.
This sonofabitch has accumulated a career full of corruption ranging from tax evasion, to false financial disclosure reports, to hidden assets.
Queen Pelosi sure is a hoot, isn’t she? Charlie ain’t the only one that needs to be pursued with an ethics case. Between all the violations of the U.S. Constitution and backroom deals by the tyrannical ruling socialist oligarchy, the entire Democratic side of the House—from Pelosi on down—needs to be investigated. The only small consolation is that none of them will be in office after November.