One of the more bizarre elements of today’s Washington Post profile of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), by Wil Haygood, is this:
Rangel has genuine vitriol for the National Legal and Policy Center, which filed complaints against him with the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the House Ethics Committee. He claims that investigators for the group followed him to the Dominican Republic and broke into his office.
Rangel has made no secret of his contempt for the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), but this is the first time he has libeled us or accused us of committing a crime.
Rangel previously lashed out at us on the House floor on August 10 of last year when he expressed a similar paranoia:
And they followed me on vacation. They followed me when I was doing business. They’re at the airport. They’re outside where I live. It’s kind of rough.
NLPC does not break into the offices of Congressmen. Our case was based on information hiding in plain sight in public records.
In 2008, we reviewed Rangel’s financial disclosure forms after David Kocieniewski of the New York Times reported that Rangel maintained four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City. We noticed that Rangel had a second home in the Dominican Republic, but that he had disclosed little or no rental income in recent years.
We sent a bilingual attorney to the Dominican Republic who established within about ten minutes that not only was Rangel’s place right on the beach, but that it was continuously rented out. It must be a nice place. He gets $1,100 a night during the vacation season. It was pretty easy to check as an adjacent hotel manages this “villa.” Our attorney just visited the front desk and asked.
With this information, we gave the story to the New York Post, which sent reporter Isabel Vincent who confirmed our findings, and a photographer who snapped the iconic photo of the overweight Rangel in his lounge chair.
Of course, Rangel might also be referring to his 2008 St. Maarten’s junket, funded by big corporations like Citigroup, for which he was admonished by the House Ethics Committee. The admonishment prompted his resignation from the Chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.
The purported purpose of the junket was to attend a conference sponsored by a New York-based newspaper called Carib News. For the 2007 conference, he had filed his required House disclosure on the trip months late, which caught our attention.
So I simply did an internet search on “Carib News,” and up popped information on the 2008 event. I registered online under my own name and bought plane tickets to sunny St. Maarten. At the event, I openly took photographs and made audio recordings of the happenings, which would later be used by the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee to prove the corporate sponsorship.
I was the enjoying comradery of Rangel’s cronies and taking in the unique culture of St. Maarten (it’s half French and half Dutch) until I was detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten. After asking me dozens of intrusive personal questions (like the birthdays of my children) I was let go and told the organizers of the conference did not want me to attend the rest of the event.
Rangel had nothing to hide, I guess.