With the spotlight this week on House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), we have prepared this timeline of his current problems. Rangel has been involved in so much controversy that it is difficult to keep it all straight. I hope this helps.
July 11, 2008– New York Times’ David Kocieniewski reports that Rangel occupies three rent-stabilized apartments in a luxury building, and uses a fourth as a campaign office.
July 14, 2008– NLPC files Complaint with the Federal Election commission alleging use of a rent-stabilized apartment for a campaign office comprises an illegal corporate contribution from the landlord. Rangel announces he will close the office.
July 15, 2008– Christopher Lee of the Washington Post reports that Rangel solicited donations on Congressional letterhead to the so-called Charles B. Rangel School of Public Service at City College of New York (CCNY), in violation of House rules.
August 2008– NLPC staff reviews Rangel’s financial disclosure forms and notices that he has a home in the Dominican Republic, but reports little or no rent. NLPC sends an investigator to Dominican Republic who finds that the beachfront “villa” is continuously rented out.
August 31, 2008– New York Post runs front-page story by Isabel Vincent and Susan Edelman with an unflattering photo of Rangel in beach chair, following Vincent’s trip to Dominican Republic.
September 5, 2008– Rangel admits to not disclosing, or paying taxes on, rental income of $75,000. He claims that he did not know that he had a no-interest mortgage. Rangel blames his wife and a language barrier. NLPC files Complaints with the IRS and U.S. Attorney alleging Rangel’s $75,000 figure is low.
September 24, 2008– At Rangel’s request, House Ethics Committee votes to investigate rent-stabilized apartments; using Congressional stationery to solicit donations for Rangel School; and failing to disclose or report Dominican Republic rental income. Pelosi predicts the probe will conclude by January 3, 2009.
November 6-9, 2008– Rangel leads Citigroup-funded Congressional junket to Caribbean island of St. Maarten. NLPC President Peter Flaherty attends and documents violations of House Rules, leading to New York Post feature story.
November 24, 2008– New York Times’ David Kocieniewski reports that Rangel helped preserve a lucrative tax break for Nabors Industries at the same time Nabors’ CEO Eugene Isenberg pledged $1 million to the Rangel School at CCNY.
November 26, 2008– NLPC files a Complaint with the House Ethics Committee alleging that Rangel violated House Rules by cheating on his taxes by improperly claiming a homestead exemption on a D. C. property.
December 9, 2008– House Ethics Committee expands investigation to include Rangels’ efforts to preserve a tax break for Nabors Industries at the same time Nabors’ CEO Eugene Isenberg pledged $1 million to the Rangel School.
January 28, 2009– Rep. John Carter (R-TX) introduces “Rangel Rule” bill to eliminate all IRS penalties and interest for paying taxes past due.
February 1, 2009– on CSPAN Newsmakers program Rangel predicts that “soon as the Ethics Committee organizes they ought to be able to dismiss this.” Rangel also accuses journalists as being “an arm of this organization (NLPC).” In a letter to supporters, Rangel says reporters do NLPC’s “dirty work.”
February 4, 2009– Sunlight Foundation issues report showing Rangel failed to report purchases, sales or his ownership of assets at least 28 times since 1978 on his personal financial disclosure forms. Assets worth between $239,026 and $831,000 appeared and disappeared with no disclosure of when they were acquired, how long they were held, or when they were sold, as House Rules require.
May 22, 2009– House Ethics Committee asks NLPC President Peter Flaherty to provide photographs, recordings and other materials from the St. Maartens junket.
May 29, 2009– About the Ethics Committee probe, Rangel tells Dow Jones Newswires, “I am optimistic that this very soon will be wrapped up.”
June 2, 2009– NLPC President Peter Flaherty directly confronts Nabors Industries CEO Eugene Isenberg at the Nabors’ annual meeting in Houston. Isenberg denies a “quid pro quo” and claims the New York Times is “full of malarkey.”
June 24, 2009– House Ethics Committee confirms probe of Caribbean junkets in 2008 and 2007. Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) objects to investigation. CBC member Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) is appointed to head probe. Butterfield took part in the trip in previous year.
August 12, 2009– Rangel files amended financial disclosure forms for 2002 to 2006. As a result, his reported net worth roughly doubled. The originals were signed under penalty of the False Statements Act.
September 16, 2009– NLPC files Complaint with the House Ethics Committee alleging that Rangel disclosed little or no rental income for eight years (1993-2001) on a six-unit Harlem brownstone, even though public records show tenants were living there.
October 8, 2009– The House Ethics Committee announces that it is expanding Rangel investigation into “all Financial Disclosure Statements and all amendments filed in the calendar year 2009.”
Because NLPC is willing to provide information to the Ethics Committee, it should not be considered an endorsement of the process. As NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm puts it, “I’m not surprised that Rangel asked to be investigated by the Ethics committee. He can claim that he is being investigated, but he can look forward to a slap on the wrist. The Ethics Committee might as well be called the Cover-up Committee.”
Pelosi’s handpicked chairperson is Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). The ranking Republican is Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL). Since the probe began, Rangel has made campaign contributions to three of the five Democrats on the committee, with only one of them, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), returning the money.
The 79-year-old Rangel has done Pelosi no favors with his increasingly erratic behavior. Rangel urged President Obama to “watch his back” when visiting Harlem, in the wake of a May shooting of a black off-duty cop by a white colleague. After revising his filings, Rangel told reporters that they were “not smart enough” to ask him questions. At a health care town hall meeting in Harlem, he blamed opposition to Obama’s health plan on racism, and said there was no reason to “negotiate with white Southerners.”
Of course, many of Rangel’s actions not only violate House rules, but also federal statutes. Tax evasion is a crime. Not disclosing income and assets on financial disclosure forms is a crime. Whether the Internal Revenue Service or the Justice Department under Eric Holder will act is an open question. But the Court of Public Opinion is in session. NLPC will continue to prosecute the case.