Rangel Won't Step Down as Panel Chair During Probe

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) will not give up his powerful committee chairmanship while he is being investigated for possible ethics violations, a decision supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the congressman's lawyer said yesterday.

"Mr. Rangel has not considered, nor has it ever been on the table, that he would step aside from his current position as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee," Lanny Davis said.

Rangel, 78, has faced increasing pressure to vacate his committee post while the House ethics committee conducts inquiries into his financial and tax filings, real estate deals and fundraising for an academic center that bears his name.

Pelosi, who met with Rangel on Monday, said Tuesday: "I see no reason for Mr. Rangel to step down."

Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Democrats have "embraced the politics of corruption with open arms."

Rangel acknowledged last week that he failed to disclose and pay taxes on at least $75,000 in rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic that he has owned for 20 years -- a house financed, in part, with a no-interest loan. He has said he would amend his returns and pay back taxes of more than $10,000.

The ethics panel is investigating the villa deal, as well as Rangel's rental of several New York apartments at below-market rates and his fundraising entreaties on congressional stationery on behalf of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

Rangel has said he would hire a forensic accountant to untangle his financial records, which contain a variety of errors. Findings will be turned over to the ethics panel.

Staff writer Paul Kane and washingtonpost.com staff writer Ben Pershing contributed to this report.

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