Rangel Entangled With Lobbyists
Following up on the ethics committee’s organizational meeting, in which they officially laid out the charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), The New York Times writes that the committee’s 40-page report substantiated the four major charges against him — improper solicitation of donations for a school named in his honor, failure to pay taxes on his villa in the Dominican Republic, incomplete financial disclosure forms, and improper use of rent-stabilized apartments — while also adding a few juicy details of its own:
The committee said Mr. Rangel not only reached out to corporate executives seeking contributions to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College, but he also personally sought donations from registered lobbyists whose corporations had business before Congress. In some cases, Mr. Rangel asked for contributions of as much as $30 million from businesses with issues before the Ways and Means Committee, of which he was the chairman until March. [...]
In one of the more important allegations against Mr. Rangel, the committee charged him with ethics violations for his solicitation of Eugene Isenberg, the chief executive of Nabors Industries, an oil company that was seeking a tax break from the Ways and Means Committee when he pledged $1 million to the Rangel Center.
Mr. Rangel met with Mr. Isenberg and his lobbyist to discuss the tax break, which the congressman previously opposed, in February 2007 — the day it was being considered by the Ways and Means Committee.
The tax break ultimately passed, with Mr. Rangel’s vote, saving Nabors more than half a billion dollars. Eleven days after the meeting, City College cashed a $100,000 check from Mr. Isenberg.
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At last count only four Democrats, none of whom represent leadership, have called for Rangel to resign — indicating that the flood of calls probably won’t materialize. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), facing challenges from Republicans that she’s not actually made progress in cleaning up Washington’s shady political culture, argued instead that the ethics committee’s handling of Rangel’s case is proof that Democrats had delivered on her famous promise in 2006 to “drain the swamp” in Washington.