Rangel Under Fire For Breaking House RulesFebruary 26, 2010 - by Eric Naing
An admonishment by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct could threaten the powerful chairmanship of Rep. Charlie Rangel [D, NY-15].
An ethics committee report released yesterday criticizes Rangel for taking trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008 that were paid for by corporations like Citigroup, Pfizer and AT&T. A 2006 rule created by House Democrats bars lawmakers from taking certain trips that are sponsored or organized by a corporation that employs a registered lobbyist.
Curiously, four other House members who went on the same trips were not admonished by the ethics committee:
None of the other members of Congress on the trips were admonished because they did not know of the sponsorships, the committee said. But all were ordered to repay the cost of the trips, about $11,800 in total.
The others were Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee; Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan; Donald M. Payne of New Jersey; and Delegate Donna Christensen of the Virgin Islands. All five are Democrats.
In his defense, Rangel said he was unaware of the sponsorships and criticized the ethics committee for approving the trips.
Rangel is the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes and other significant programs such as Medicare and Social Security. But in recent days, Democrats like Rep. Paul Hodes [D, NH-2], Rep. Gene Taylor [D, MI-4] and Rep. Mike Quigley [D, IL-5] have called for Rangel to step down.
Aside from the trips, Rangel currently faces a number of other charges relating to the improper use of his congressional office for fundraising, unpaid taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and other allegations.