Representative Charlie Rangel has been scrambling to explain away inconsistencies surrounding a mission he and other New York power brokers took to meet with Fidel Castro. According to forms Rangel filed with House overseers back in 2002, he claimed he and his family took a $5,700, four-day trip to Havana on the dime of an obscure Minneapolis-based environmental group, the Sian Ka’an Conservation Foundation, for “fact finding” about endangered birds. But the Center for Public Integrity, which spent nine months preparing for an upcoming report by combing through more than 25,000 travel forms filed by lawmakers, discovered some major missing info: Rangel now says the government of Cuba paid for their stay at the posh Melia Cohiba hotel, while Gristedes-supermarket king and mayoral aspirant John Catsimatidis flew Rangel and his wife, his son, and several others—including former mayor David Dinkins and limo magnate/bankruptcy con/Bill Clinton pardonee William Fugazy—to Havana on his private 727. Rangel says it was an administrative error. “There’s no reason to hide the damn thing,” he says, adding that he’s met Castro a half dozen times on Cuba’s dime.