The Washington Post reports today that staff members of the House Ethics Committee met with Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) in July and questioned him about a trip by Rangel and four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. According to the Post:
Rangel said he has not been interviewed by the committee to discuss other elements of the investigation, which involve his personal finances and whether House resources were improperly used to raise funds for a college center named for him.
It was NLPC that exposed both the Caribbean junket and Rangel’s failure to disclose, or pay taxes on, rental income from his Dominican Republic “villa.” While we welcome the investigation of the junket, we believe that tax evasion is a serious matter, and that Rangel should be treated no differently than any other citizen.
We don’t know whether the Committee’s failure to interview Rangel so far on his finances is evidence of foot dragging, or whether the Committee is assembling information before talking to Rangel.
We do know that Committee is firmly under the control of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has repeatedly voiced her support for Rangel. And it was Rangel himself who filed the initial request for an investigation, no doubt expecting a whitewash.
The Post reports:
The investigation has expanded into several other areas of his finances, including his decision to amend financial disclosure forms earlier this year revealing accounts that held more than $500,000 in them that had not been previously disclosed.
The committee also has interviewed Rangel’s top aide, James Capel, who in July belatedly filed several years’ worth of financial disclosure. The most senior aides must file the same disclosure reports just as lawmakers do every spring.
The committee also has interviewed Steven Rangel, the lawmaker’s son. The document does not make clear what the interview covered. News reports last year said that his father’s campaign committee paid nearly $60,000 to an Internet consulting firm owned by Steven Rangel. He now works as an aide to the House oversight committee.
Of course, tax evasion is more than a violation of House Rules. It’s a crime. That is why we filed Complaints with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in September 2008.
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Flaherty: Rangel is ‘Serial Offender’ (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)
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WSJ Highlights NLPC’s Efforts to Expose Rangel’s Tax Evasion
Caribbean Junket Probe Headed by Black Caucus Member Shows Pelosi’s ‘Mockery’ of Ethics Process
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Peter Flaherty Discusses Citigroup-Funded Congressional Junket on CNBC (video)