New York, NY —
A Congressional ethics panel says Harlem's powerful Congressman Charlie Rangel broke House ethics rules by knowingly accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.
Rangel says he will not step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee even though the ethics committee found that he violated House rules. Rangel says he truly doesn't understand why the committee admonished him.
The Harlem Democrat says an ethics report "exonerates" him because it says there is no evidence that he knew the trips were sponsored by corporations. The report says his staff knew who paid for the trips.
Separate ethics investigations are continuing into Rangel's use of rent-controlled apartments as an office and for under-reporting income from a villa in the Dominican Republic. There is also an investigation into his fundraising for an academic center at CUNY named after him.
Rangel, the chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means committee, has been in Congress for over 30 years. His office had not responded to requests for comment at press time.
In a statement, Rangel sought to downplay the severity of the panel's finding. The statement reads:
"The House Ethics Committee approved both trips in question and Congressman Rangel participated in those trips in reliance on that approval. Today’s Committee report found that the Chairman himself had no actual knowledge that the trip in fact violated house rules. Media reports saying otherwise are absolutely inaccurate reflections of the report's finding. Having now learned that the trip reimbursement was made erroneously, Congressman Rangel will of course refund the funds in question."