Charles Rangel

We Welcome Charles Rangel Censure, But Criminal Prosecution Must Follow

Rangel & Holder photoToday's imminent censure of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is the result of Ethics Committee investigations that went much further than we expected, even after we exposed Rangel's failure to pay taxes on income from his Dominican Republic beach house and his acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets.

Rangel filed the ethics complaint against himself in late 2008. He no doubt expected the Committee to cover up for him, fulfilling the same role it has played during Rangel's 40 years in Congress. Rangel seems amazed that the accusations against him could result in his censure. Perhaps he feels betrayed by the Democratic leadership and the institution of Congress that traditionally has taken care of its own.

NLPC Alleges Rangel Illegally Used Leadership PAC Funds for Legal Defense

Rangel photoNLPC yesterday filed a Complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by using almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills related to the House Ethics Committee actions against him. The Committee yesterday referred a censure resolution to the entire House after earlier this month finding Rangel guilty of violating House rules on 11 counts. Click here to download an 11-page pdf of the Complaint.

As the Complaint points out:

Timeline of Rangel Ethics Scandal

NY Post/RangelThe start of the Rangel scandals can be pegged to David Kocieniewski's New York Times story in July 2008. His article prompted us to begin our review of Rangel's finances, resulting in our exposé of Rangel's tax evasion and his acceptance of corporate-funded junkets.

It should be noted, however, that New York Post reporter Geoff Earle wrote a year earlier about Rangel's solicitation of corporate money for the Rangel Center.

July 23, 2007- Geoff Earle of the New York Post reports that Rangel is soliciting funds for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service from corporations that have interests before Congress, and that Rangel secured a $2 million "seed money" earmark from Congress.

Rangel Used Leadership PAC Funds for Legal Fees

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), whose House ethics trial is scheduled to begin tomorrow, used almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills to fend off corruption allegations. Rangel's ability to retain high-powered lawyers helped him delay the Ethics Committee action for more than two years, and push his trial past the election.

Rangel appears to have violated House rules. Members of Congress may use funds from their personal re-election committees for legal expenses related to their official actions. The National Leadership PAC is not Rangel's re-election committee but what is classified as a "leadership PAC," the purpose of which is make contributions to other candidates. Up to and during his tenure as Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rangel distributed hundreds of thousands to his colleagues, many of whom donated the money to charity as Rangel became an embarrassment.

Politico: Rangel in Disarray

John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel is heading into a Nov. 15 ethics trial with no lawyers, little money and a risky strategy that may turn his trial into a political showdown, rather than a legal face-off, according to sources close to the New York Democrat.

It's not even clear if the ethics trial will start on time. Rangel has asked for a delay in the proceedings, but the ethics committee - with members off running their own reelection campaigns - has not publicly ruled on the request.

Exec at Rangel’s Nonprofit Got $250K in Fake Tax Refunds

According to WebCPA.com:

A senior executive of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone who is also a tax preparer has pleaded guilty to submitting false and fraudulent tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service and cashing approximately $250,000 in fraudulently obtained tax refund checks.

Kelvin Crucey, 41, has been employed since 1996 by the empowerment zone, most recently as senior vice president of finance and administration.

Embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) played a key role in the creation of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ). He exercises dominating influence over its board of directors and has secured millions in federal earmarks. Rangel directed millions in taxpayer money through UMEZ to another nonprofit known as Alianza Dominicana, which is Spanish for Dominican Alliance.

Rangel Parts Company With Ethics Lawyers, $2 Million Lighter

John Bresnahan of Politico reports today:

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), who faces an ethics trial next month, has parted ways with his lead defense attorneys in the case, according to several sources familiar with the matter.

It is unclear what, if any, impact this will have on the Rangel trial, which is scheduled to begin Nov. 15. It is also not clear whether Rangel decided to get rid of his attorneys or if they left of their own volition.

Whatever the case, Rangel’s lawyers were not underpaid. During his August 10 House floor speech, when he wasn’t criticizing NLPC, Rangel complained that he “paid close to two million dollars” to his legal team.

Ethics Committee Delays Rangel, Waters Trials as New Poll Says Pelosi Failed to Drain the Swamp

Rangel and PelosiIt’s official. The House Ethics Committee will not conduct trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-NY) until safely after the November 2 election. Ethics Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) announced yesterday that Rangel’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 15 and Waters’ on November 19.

Politics have trumped ethics in the final days of this Congress. Notwithstanding her pledge to “drain the swamp” and preside over the most ethical Congress ever, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) simply will not allow high-profile ethics trials during the campaign season. This delay is sure to backfire. A new poll shows that most voters believe Congressional ethics have gotten worse in the last two years.  According to the Hill, which conducted the poll:

Republicans on Ethics Committee Accuse Lofgren of ‘Stalling’ on Rangel, Waters Trials

Jo Bonner photoIn recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.

Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee's ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election."

Ethics Chair Lofgren Can’t Find Time for Rangel Trial But Brings Colbert Comedy Show to Capitol Hill

Lofgren photoRep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is supposed to be conducting a trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on the 13 violations of House rules the Committee alleged on July 29.  There is also supposed to be a trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

Instead, Lofgren played host on Friday to comedian Stephen Colbert who testified “in character” on the plight of migrant farm workers before a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that Lofgren also chairs. I thought Colbert was actually pretty funny but other reviews were mixed.

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