The House Ethics Committee officially launched a probe of the troubled finances of Rep. Charles Rangel, the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman. The investigative subcommittee will look into the following charges:
- The use of official congressional stationary to solicit funds for an educational center bearing his name.
- His occupancy in four rent-stabilized apartments in his Harlem district.
- The undisclosed income from his Dominican Republic vacation home and the no-interest loan he received when the home was purchased.
- The storage of his Mercedes-Benz in the House parking lot in contravention of House rules and tax laws.
The Ethics Committee also announced a stricter policy on filing private travel disclosures, so they can be properly reviewed. The Committee instituted a “hard” 14-day deadline for all filings for private travel. That means that all disclosures must be handed in 14 days prior to the beginning date of the trip.
The previous rules required disclosures to be submitted 30 days prior to the beginning of a trip, however, the Committee reports that, “many members and staff” failed to file in timely manor. Failure to file on time was for no other reason than because members could get away with it, “In the vast majority of cases, such belated requests are not due to any special circumstances, but instead stem merely from a failure to submit the request in a timely fashion.”
One trip in particular that set off the implementation of these new rules was one taken by none other than Rep. Charles Rangel. According to The Hill:
The ethics committee directive comes after the New York Post reported Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) took a trip costing thousands of dollars to the Sandals Grand Resort and Spa in Antigua and Barbuda last year after the new rules had passed.
On his forms, Rangel listed the NY Carib News Foundation as the sponsor, but the Post found that several corporations financed the trip, including AT&T, HSBC, Sandals and Pfizer.
The new deadline will go into effect for trips beginning on October 21st.