Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rep. Rangel A.K.A. Mr. Pringles Caught With His Hand In The Cookie Jar...

Rangel Says He Won't Leave
Key Ways and Means Post

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Charles Rangel won't step down from his chairmanship at the House's tax-writing committee, his lawyer said Tuesday.

"Mr. Rangel has not considered, nor has it every been on the table, that he would step aside from his current position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee," said Lanny Davis, the attorney for Rep. Rangel, a New York Democrat. Mr. Davis said Rep. Rangel is going to hire a forensic accountant to examine the last 20 years of his financial records, which will be forwarded directly to the House Ethics Committee.

Speculation has grown in recent days that Rep. Rangel, who has admitted that he failed to report $75,000 in income from a rental property in the Dominican Republican, would temporarily give up his chairmanship. With only two months before the congressional elections, Republicans have been hammering Democrats who received political contributions from Rep. Rangel and saying that his actions undermine Democrats' promise to clean up ethics in Washington.

Rep. Rangel met Monday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Mr. Davis said at the meeting she "told Mr. Rangel that she was pleased with the initiative he's taken to in effect authorize an investigation of himself with full transparency…and she also expressed her appreciation that he is allowing the House Ethics Committee to complete its process."

Rep. Rangel has been meeting with colleagues, including Ways and Means members, Congressional Black Caucus members and the New York delegation, to talk with them about the cloud he has been under since news of the unreported income. Newspapers have also reported that Rep. Rangel used congressional stationery to raise funds for an academic center named after him and questioned whether it was appropriate for him to have access to four rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem.

Republicans have been pressing for Rep. Rangel to give up his chairmanship. Even some Democrats have said privately that, politically, it would make sense for him to do so. But Rep. Rangel's backers said his colleagues are supporting him, and some members of Congress are leery of setting a precedent that newspaper reports could endanger a lawmaker's position.

Rep. Rangel "believes the facts should prevail, not innuendo or editorial opinion or the partisan actions of the House Republican leadership, and his colleagues agree with that position," Mr. Davis said.

Write to Sarah Lueck at sarah.lueck@wsj.com

Copyright 2008 Dow Jones & Company,

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