Appearing on New York City’s Channel 5 this morning, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was asked about allegations that he improperly used funds from his so-called National Leadership PAC for his legal defense in his House ethics case. Rangel responded by calling the allegations “ridiculous” and attacking NLPC.
The allegations were first made by NLPC in a Complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on November 29. The New York Post reported yesterday that the FEC has opened an investigation as a result. Drudge linked to the Post story today. Katrina Trinko of National Review Online and Rachel Slajda of TPMMuckraker also report on the Complaint today, as does Jordan Fabian of The Hill.
On Channel 5 this morning, Rangel never addressed the substance of the Complaint, namely that he used almost $400,000 in PAC funds to pay his lawyers in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, allowing him to drag out the ethics investigation for over two years.
Rangel also 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.
Rangel’s attack on NLPC today was similar to his attack on August 10 on the House floor. Today he told co-host Rosanna Scotto:
The group that put that out (the Complaint) has been the same group that sends out solicitations “let’s bring down Charlie Rangel.”
In the past, Rangel also dismissed our allegations about his failure to pay taxes on income from his Dominican Republic beach house, and his acceptance of corporate-funded Caribbean junkets. It turned out we were right.