Charles Hurt of the New York Post reports today:
Rep. Charles Rangel claimed on mortgage papers that a Harlem brownstone was his principal residence — even though he was living elsewhere at the time, The Post has learned.
When the Democrat — who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee — took out the mortgage in 1990, he said the property on West 132nd Street was his “principal residence,” records show.
By our count, Rangel simultaneously claimed three “primary residences.” The first is where he really lives, in three rent-stabilized Harlem apartments, for which he does not qualify, based on his income. He actually had four apartments, but gave one up in the wake of reports that he was using it as a campaign office, prompting NLPC to file a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that he violated election law.
The second is a DC home he owned from 1971 to 2000 on which he cheated on his property taxes by claiming a “homestead exemption.” This exemption is available only to owner-occupants who pay income tax to the District. Members of Congress are specifically precluded from this exemption. NLPC pulled this information out of old DC tax records, providing the basis for a Complaint to the House Ethics Committee.
The third is the Harlem brownstone described in today’s Post story. According to the Post:
“I will reside in the Property (on 132nd Street) for at least six (6) months of every calendar year,” read Rangel’s mortgage contract with Citibank, which is on file with the city.
The terms of the $60,000 loan appear to be normal for that time, but lenders say claiming principal residency when you live elsewhere is a serious breach.
“It’s fraud or a mistake,” said David Reed, an author of several popular books about mortgage lending.
“Owner-occupied dwellings — where you hang your hat — always get better interest rates and lower down payments than rental properties or second homes,” Reed added.
Rangel’s mortgage was held by Citigroup, the same bank that funded a Rangel-led Caribbean junket, shortly after Rangel and the four other members of Congress on the trip voted for TARP. I crashed the junket as an uninvited observer to document violations of House Rules. The trip is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
One property that Rangel has not claimed as his “primary residence” is his beachfront “villa” at the exclusive Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic, on which he failed to report or disclose rental income until NLPC blew the whistle.
photo: AP/Wide World