Rangel Blamed for Ethics Offense

Greg Hitt and Brody Mullins, Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2010

The House ethics committee has found Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, violated House rules by failing to properly disclose financial details of trips to the Caribbean, senior congressional officials said Thursday.

After several months of investigation, the ethics panel determined Mr. Rangel didn’t inform the ethics committee of the corporate source of funds for trips that took place in 2007 and 2008. The panel determined his staff knew the trips were paid for by corporations, and found that Mr. Rangel–who says he didn’t know–should still be held accountable, officials said.

Mr. Rangel, central player in Congress on tax and health care legislation, called a news conference late Thursday and said there is “nothing in the record” to indicate he knew the source of funding for the trips, and questioned whether members of Congress should be held accountable for errors by their staff, the Associated Press reported.

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In a statement expected to be released as soon as Friday, the ethics panel wrote that it didn’t find sufficient evidence to conclude that Mr. Rangel knew that misleading information was provided to the ethics committee before the trips were approved.

A statement released by Mr. Rangel’s office stressed the ethics committee “found that the chairman himself had no actual knowledge that the trip in fact violated House rules” and added that “Congressman Rangel will of course refund the funds in question.”

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The ethics investigation is one of several targeting the activities of Mr. Rangel. The committee is also looking at whether Mr. Rangel filed inaccurate forms with Congress disclosing his personal assets. Last summer, Mr. Rangel updated his personal-financial-disclosure forms for the past few years, revealing more than $500,000 in assets he hadn’t before made public.

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