House to charge Charlie Rangel with ethics violations


Despite his oft repeated assertions to the contrary, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., will be charged by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for as yet unspecified violations of congressional ethics rules.

In 2009, Sunlight documented 28 instances in which Rangel omitted assets worth between $239,026 and $831,000 that were either purchased, sold, or held from his financial disclosures. He was also under fire for his actions as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee; this story in the New York Times explained how Rangel solicited contributions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service from insurance giant A.I.G., which in turn asked for a favor of its own:

…in a letter dated May 13, Edward T. Cloonan, the highest-ranking A.I.G. official who attended the fund-raising meeting with Mr. Rangel, wrote to the congressman asking him to support the extension of a tax provision designed to help American-based multinational companies lower their obligation to the I.R.S., which was set to expire. Mr. Rangel, who had announced plans to add an array of “tax extenders” to an energy bill he was preparing to introduce that month, opposed extending the specific measure Mr. Cloonan and A.I.G. were lobbying for.

The measure, known as the “subpart F active financing exception,” would benefit a broad coalition of American companies, including hundreds of financial services firms, and according to estimates by the nonpartisan Joint Taxation Committee would cost the Treasury $3.97 billion in revenue in 2009 and 2010. A.I.G., which Congressional records indicate spent more than $9.5 million on lobbying in 2008, had its own lobbyists and three outside firms pushing to extend the measure.

By early May 2008, concern about the damage that American businesses would suffer if the tax break was allowed to expire had grown so great that Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee held two meetings to ask Mr. Rangel to extend it.

Representative Joseph Crowley, a Democrat from Queens, said he pressed the issue because it helped Citigroup, a major employer in his district. At least two committee caucus meetings to discuss many aspects of the legislation followed — on May 7 and May 13 — and Mr. Rangel relented, Mr. Crowley said, and agreed to extend the measure for one year.

The ethics committee did not specify which charges it would file against Rangel. 

Rangel stepped down from the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee on March 3, 2010. A prolific fundraiser for House Democrats before his ethics troubles mounted, he appears to have dropped off the Washington, D.C., fundraising circuit even earlier, last appearing at a colleague’s event in Sept. 2009.