Ethics Committee Nails Charles Rangel on NLPC-Exposed Caribbean Junket

Carib junket photoThe House Ethics Committee has ruled that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel violated the House gift rule by accepting travel to events in the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.

NLPC was the source of the information on which the Committee acted. I attended the 2008 event in St. Maarten where I took photographs and made audio recordings of the event, demonstrating that it was paid for by Citigroup and other large corporations. These items were provided to the Ethics Committee in May 2009. Click here to download a 4-page pdf of our Complaint.

The Committee characterized its action as a “public admonishment” of Rangel, and is requiring that Rangel repay the cost of the trips. Click here to download a 3-page pdf of the Committee’s statement dated tomorrow.

The Committee also found that the organizers of the trips, a couple named Karl and Faye Rodney, who operate Carib News or Carib News Foundation, submitted “false or misleading” information to the Committee under oath. The matter was referred to the Justice Department. It was Faye Rodney who tried to prevent me from attending the St. Maarten event after organizers realized that I represented a watchdog group. I was detained by the Police Korps of St. Maarten, and subjected to numerous questions, such as my hotel room number, the names of my children.

House travel rules prohibit members of Congress from accepting travel on multi-day trips from corporations that employ federal lobbyists, either directly or indirectly through third-party groups like the Carib News. The rules were tightened at the behest of Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the wake of the Jack Abramoff golf trip to Scotland.

The Committee cleared the other five member of Congress who were on the trips: Donald Payne (D-NJ), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Donna Christensen (D-VI).

In August, Rangel amended his financial disclosure forms to show that he had omitted hundreds of thousands in assets and income from previous reports. The revisions came after NLPC exposed Rangel’s failure to disclose or report to the IRS rental income he received on a beach villa in the Dominican Republic.

With this latest embarrassment, Speaker Nancy Pelosi should now seek Rangel’s resignation as Ways and Means Chairman. The Ethics Committee is probing several other Rangel-related matters, including the tax evasion, but Pelosi should not wait. Rangel must go now.

As John Bresnahan points out in Politico:

When then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was admonished by the ethics committee in October 2004, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders went on the offensive against him.

“Mr. DeLay has proven himself to be ethically unfit to lead the party,” Pelosi said at a press conference the following day. “The burden falls upon his fellow House Republicans. Republicans must answer: Do they want an ethically unfit person to be their majority leader or do they want to remove the ethical cloud that hangs over the Capitol?”

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — now the House majority leader — said DeLay “certainly ought to step aside as leader at this point in time because I think his credibility has been undermined by these findings.”

Rangel Scandal Timeline

Flaherty: Rangel Dirty Even After Coming Clean (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)

Flaherty: Rangel is ‘Serial Offender’ (CNN/Anderson Cooper video)

NLPC Alleges Charles Rangel Hid More Income in Complaint to House Ethics Committee

Washington Post Calls on Rangel to Resign Ways and Means Chairmanship, But What About Criminality?

WSJ Highlights NLPC’s Efforts to Expose Rangel’s Tax Evasion

Rangel Hid $500K in Assets

House Ethics Committee Asks NLPC For Info on Rangel-Led, Citigroup-Funded Caribbean Junket

Peter Flaherty Discusses Citigroup-Funded Congressional Junket on CNBC (video)