WASHINGTON (AP) - The House ethics committee is expanding an
investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing
Ways and Means Committee.
The ethics panel issued a statement Tuesday saying it had voted
to expand an already far-ranging probe into the New York Democrat
to examine whether he protected an oil drilling company from a big
tax bill when the head of that company pledged a $1 million
donation to a college center named after the congressman.
The move means the Rangel inquiry will likely stretch well past
early January, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had
previously said she expected the matter to be resolved.
Republicans have called for Rangel to step down from his
chairmanship of the powerful Ways and Means panel during the
investigation. The expanding investigation means the ethics cloud
hanging over Rangel is likely to follow him and Democratic leaders
into the next Congress as they seek to pass major stimulus
legislation and buoy the sinking economy.
The committee will now investigate contributions or pledges of
money made to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at
the City College of New York, particularly one made by Eugene M.
Isenberg, CEO of Nabors Industries, Ltd.
Rangel, 78, reportedly helped preserve a tax loophole that saved
the company tens of millions of dollars a year.
The congressman, who has been in office for 40 years, maintains
he has done nothing improper, and he says he has always opposed the
kind of change to tax law that would have cost Nabors dearly.
The ethics committee said it was expanding the probe after
Rangel asked them to do so.
The committee has already been probing Rangel's failure to pay
taxes on about $75,000 in rental income from a beach house he owns
in the Dominican Republic. They are also eyeing his use of three
rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, including one for a campaign
office. Also under scrutiny are letters Rangel wrote on
congressional stationery looking to drum up donors for the college
College officials have refused to say who donated to the Rangel
center, citing the ongoing investigation.
Rangel has insisted that whatever he did wrong, they were honest
mistakes, not intentional deceptions.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)