The House Ethics Committee released a statement today announcing that it is expanding its investigation of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY). Although somewhat vague, the statement makes reference to “all Financial Disclosure Statements and all amendments filed in the calendar year 2009.”
In August, Rangel amended his financial disclosure forms for 2002 to 2006. As a result, Rangel’s reported net worth roughly doubled from between $516,015 and $1,316,000 to between $1,028,024 and $2,495,000. Members of Congress are required to disclose their income and assets within certain ranges. The forms are signed under penalty of the False Statements Act.
Rangel somehow neglected to report a checking account with the Congressional Federal Credit Union and one with Merrill Lynch, each valued between $250,000 and $500,000; tens of thousands of dollars in earning from dividends from a number of mutual funds and stocks; and the capital gain from the sale of a Harlem brownstone in 2004.
The six-unit brownstone was the subject of an Ethics Committee Complaint filed by NLPC on September 16. Rangel reported little or no rental income for eight years (1993-2001) on disclosure reports that were not amended, even though public records show tenants were living there.
This is the third time the Ethics Committee has expanded the Rangel investigation after Rangel himself asked the Committee for an investigation in September 2008. The original investigation was of to be of Rangel’s use of four rent-stabilized apartments; using Congressional stationery to solicit donations for the so-called Charles B. Rangel School for Public Service at City College of New York; and failing to disclose or report rental income from a beach house in the Dominican Republic. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted the probe would conclude by January 3, 2009.
On December 9, 2008, the Ethics Committee expanded the investigation to include Rangel’s efforts to preserve a tax break for Nabors Industries at the same time Nabors’ CEO Eugene Isenberg pledged $1 million to the Rangel School.
On June 24, 2009, the Ethics Committee confirmed a probe of Rangel-led Caribbean junkets in 2008 and 2007. NLPC exposed the 2008 Citigroup-funded event after I attended the event and documented violations of House Rules.
In today’s announcement, the Committee claimed that it is conducting an extensive investigation:
…the investigative subcommittee to date has: authorized the issuance of close to 150 subpoenas; interviewed approximately 34 witness resulting in over 2,100 pages of transcripts; reviewed and analyzed over 12,000 pages of documents; and held over 30 investigative subcommittee meetings.