For Immediate Release
Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 736-5770
Ethics Committee Must Keep Going With Rangel Investigations
WASHINGTON - Finally, the House Ethics Committee did its job last week when it admonished Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) for accepting corporate-sponsored travel to the Caribbean. But the panel still has a long way to go in addressing more serious allegations made against Rep. Rangel.
The Ethics Committee said that Rangel should have known that two trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008 were funded by corporations, a violation of House ethics rules. The committee found that two Rangel aides knew the funding source of the trip. Rangel has complained that it is unfair to hold him responsible for what his staff knew. That is unbelievable. Rep. Rangel has been in Congress long enough to know how the process works, and at the end of the day, members of Congress are responsible for their own actions.
The Ethics Committee was also right to refer the sponsor of the trip, Carib News Foundation, to the Justice Department if it misrepresented information to the Committee when the Committee was researching the trip for preclearance, as the Committee has asserted.
However, the more important questions are still before the Ethics Committee: whether Rep. Rangel violated House rules by failing to pay taxes on rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic or his use of four rent-subsidized apartments in New York. Unlike how a Caribbean event is underwritten, Rep. Rangel's violation of ethics rules on these counts would argue more for his removal as Chairman of the committee charged with oversight of our tax system, among other things. The Ethics Committee must investigate as quickly as possible and bring closure to this issue.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.