The House Ethics Committee ruled today that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel — considered "the most powerful tax-writing lawmaker in Congress" — knowingly accepted trips to the Caribbean from a corporation, directly violating House rules, according to the AP. Rangel, a New York Democrat who has represented his Harlem district for 34 years, will be formally admonished Friday by the committee, he told reporters.
The issue in question is the payment for trips the Congressional Black Caucus took to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008. At least four other members of the Caucus on the trips were exonerated, according to a congressional source. The Ethics Committee did not issue formal charges against Rangel today, though it said that he was the only lawmaker on the trips who was aware that a corporation that regularly lobbied Congress was footing the bill, says the source.
Republicans immediately issued their take on the ruling.
“Once promised to be the ‘most ethical Congress in history,’ the Democratic majority now has a serious ethics scandal on its hands thanks in-part to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” said Ken Spain, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “For months, and even years, Nancy Pelosi has been promoting corrupt actors within her caucus ranks when she should have been punishing them.”
It is not clear how the charges will affect Rangel's reelection plans, or his current role as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.