It has been reported by the Associated Press that the ethics investigation panel has decided Charles Rangel (D-N.Y) and his staff broke the rules when they knowingly accepted Caribbean vacations on behalf of large corporations.
It is a violation of the House rules to accept extravagant trips on behalf of any businesses while serving in the U.S. Congress. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus say Rangel had been exonerated on four of the trips, however he was guilty of other island vacations.
Rangel, who is an establishment lawmaker, could face the loss of control in the powerful Ways and Means Committee that oversees Medicare and Social Security benefits as well as tax issues.
It is worth pointing put that the House and Means Committee must rewrite the expiring of former President Bush’s tax laws that the committee is expected to tackle – much of it is complicated legislation to craft.
This ethics decision comes as another blow to established Democrats who have suffered a variety of setbacks from passing health care legislation to retiring stalwart leaders. Rangel who has served in the Congress for 34 years could lose his powerful chairmanship.
The good news is the ethics committee decided not to levy formal charges against Rangel that could have led to censure, however the committee is still mulling over other suspect fundraiser and finance activities Rangel is accused of mishandling.
Others contend the beltway insider could decide to retire rather than face a tough midterm election that would be marred with ethical mud slinging as a way to escape further committee investigation.
Rangel did answer a few questions about the ethics committee ruling, but he remained defiant. “So I now have to deal with my lawyer as to what the hell do they (ethics members) mean when something’s ‘imputed?’ Does it mean that no matter what a staff member does, that if a member doesn’t know it a member can be charged and admonished publicly for it?”
In the end Rangel decided to leave the public flogging to his constituents; “I think right now I have to let the general community make its own judgment.”
The ethics committee will issue their report to the public sometime on Friday.
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