A House ethics committee has launched an investigation into New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel for undisclosed ethics violations, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Rangel, who resigned from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee in March following a formal admonishment for two corporately-underwritten Caribbean junkets, will appear next week before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Composed of four Republicans and four Democrats, the panel will consider if sufficient evidence exists to prove the allegations against 20-term legislator.
The adjudicatory subcommittee was last impaneled six years ago, when it was called upon to handle the case of Democratic Congressman Jim Traficant, who served seven years on bribery and racketeering-related charges.
In the same way that Republican ethics violations loomed large in the 2006 midterm elections that saw the House of Representatives change hands, Rangel's ethics misdeeds threaten to undermine Speaker Nancy Pelosi's pledge to run the "most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in History."
But for now, the specific nature of charges against Rangel remain unknown -- and will likely remain as such until next Thursday when he makes his case to the ethics panel. In the meantime, a list--that is, unfortunately, in no way comprehensive--of the 80-year-old lawmaker's ethics lapses:
- Violating New York state and city zoning laws, Rep. Rangel rented in 2008 several rent-stabilized Harlem apartments and used one for a base of operations for his reelection effort.
- Days later it was revealed Rangel had used congressional letterhead to solicit funds for his personal foundation, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.
- The following month, in August of 2008, the New York Post reported that Rangel had failed to disclose income from renting his beachfront villa on a Dominican Republic resort. In total, Rangel failed to disclose $75,000 in rental income since 1988. Rangel secured a seven-year fixed rate loan at 10.5 % for the property, but two years later the interest on the loan, which was awarded by a company for which the congressman was an early investor, was waived. Rangel paid $10,800 in back-taxes for his 2004, 2005 and 2006 tax returns for the unreported rental income.
- Rangel violated House rules and failed to report income to the IRS when he left his 1972 Mercedes in a House parking lot for several years without registering the car. The car, without license plates and covered by a tarp, occupied a space for several years valued a $290 per month.
- In November 2008, the Post's muckrakers discovered that Rangel had improperly received a "homestead" tax exemption on a property he owned in Washington, D.C., while occupying his four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City.
- Rangel secured tax benefits for a company whose chief executive he was courting as a donor for his private foundation.
- And most recently, a House panel admonished the scandal-plagued congressman for wrongly accepting reimbursements for two Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008.