Ever notice that those who endorse high taxes and those who actually pay them aren’t the same people? Consider the curious case of Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel, who is leading the charge for a new 5.4-percentage point income tax surcharge and recently called it “the moral thing to do.” About his own tax liability he seems less, well, fervent.
Exhibit A concerns a rental property Mr. Rangel purchased in 1987 at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. The rental income from that property ought to be substantial since it is a luxury beach-front villa and is more often than not rented out. But when the National Legal and Policy Center looked at Mr. Rangel’s House financial disclosure forms in August, it noted that his reported income looked suspiciously low. In 2004 and 2005, he reported no more than $5,000, and in 2006 and 2007 no income at all from the property.
Embattled House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, facing a multi-pronged investigation by the House ethics committee, shelled out nearly $280,000 to four different law firms over the last quarter, according to his newest campaign disclosure report.
Overall, Rangel has paid $928,000 to his attorneys during the last year as his personal finances have come under scrutiny on a variety of fronts.
Much of the money was spent fending off allegations by NLPC.
The chairman of a House ethics probe into a Caribbean conference attended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus is himself a CBC member who attended the same event in 2005.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), the former judge chosen to chair the ethics probe, has vowed to lead a fair investigation into trips taken by CBC members to St. Maarten in 2008 and Antigua and Barbuda in 2007.
NLPC exposed the 2008 junket. The Hillnoted my reaction:
“The CBC really sticks together — you can see their solidarity in the face of these ethics charges,” Flaherty said. “To put one of their own members in charge of the investigation just shows that nothing has changed — the ethics process is still a complete mockery.”
Self-investigation has never been a signature virtue of Congress. So taxpayers should closely monitor the House ethics committee’s inquiry into the lucrative relationships between defense appropriators and military contractors.
The committee finally confirmed the inquiry — not yet a full-blown investigation — into suspicions that members and staffers earmarked hundreds of millions in defense contracts for favored companies in return for tens of millions in political donations. In a separate matter, the ethics committee opened an inquiry into whether Caribbean trips taken by Representative Charles Rangel and four other lawmakers violated House gift rules. It is encouraging to see such curiosity from the traditionally somnolent panel.
We too are glad that the Ethics Committee is looking into these matters, especially since we are the source of the allegations about the Rangel-led Caribbean junket. But it will take more than “curiosity” to deal with the current wave of corruption in Congress.
Already embroiled in an ethics probe now entering its tenth month, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, received more bad news Wednesday night as the House ethics committee announced it would look into Caribbean trips taken by the veteran lawmaker and four other Democrats.
In a statement released late Wednesday night, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the ethics committee, announced that the panel had voted to create a four-member investigative subcommittee to determine whether the trips violated House gift rules.
Mike Soraghan reports in today’s edition of The Hill:
An investigation into a trip taken by members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is triggering a backlash against the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s signature ethics proposal.
CBC members, frustrated at what they perceive as an accusation by a conservative group that’s been blown out of proportion, last week formed a working group to look at taking on the 2006 resolution that created the OCE.
The junket to sunny St. Maarten took place the weekend after the election in 2008. I attended in order to document violations of House Rules that prohibit corporate sponsorship of travel and hospitality.
The House ethics committee is investigating an alleged quid pro quo between Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and an oil company executive, the subject of a lengthy New York Times article published in December.
Eugene Isenberg, the oil executive accused of trying to influence Rangel through a $1 million donation to the education center bearing Rangel's name, is cooperating with an ethics committee investigation into the matter and predicts that the panel will find no wrongdoing.
The assertion was caught on tape during a conversation with Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative watchdog that has investigated several ethics stories about Rangel. Flaherty approached Isenberg at the company’s annual meeting in Houston last week, taped the conversation and provided The Hill a transcript and audio recording.
As detailed in a previous entry, I actually questioned Isenberg (pictured) during the formal Q&A session of the Nabors Industries annual meeting on June 2. NLPC is a Nabors shareholder.
The Waxman-Markey bill, currently under consideration by several House committees, would impose a huge energy tax on the American people in the name of combating the scientifically unproven global warming threat. The Heritage Foundation estimates the average household will have to pay an extra $1,500 per year for gas and electricity while the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) puts that number at about $1,600.
That is why congressional Democrats and liberal advocates are trying to avoid this unpleasant fact by simply not admitting that the Waxman-Markey bill is a tax increase. They understand that if the public perceives this legislation for what it is - an energy tax - then it will fail.
Eugene Isenberg, Chairman and CEO of Nabors Industries, is smiling in the photo at right but he wasn’t happy when I questioned him at the company’s annual meeting in Houston on Tuesday, June 2.
Isenberg’s controversial $1 million pledge to the so-called Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York came at a time when Rangel helped preserve a loophole that allowed Nabors to save tens of millions in taxes after moving to the Bahamas. These facts were first reported in the New York Times in an article by David Kocieniewski in late 2008.
Under my questioning, Isenberg again denied any quid pro quo. He also denied that there was any “understanding” or a “wink and a nod.” He would not even concede an appearance problem.