July 26th, 2010
09:31 PM ET
12 years ago

House Democrats uneasy about upcoming Rangel allegations

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/07/26/art.rangelscrum0726.gi.jpg caption="House Democratic leaders preached patience Monday in awaiting an ethics committee report on veteran Rep. Charles Rangel of New York."]
Washington (CNN) - House Democratic leaders preached patience Monday in awaiting an ethics committee report on veteran Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, but rumblings emerged from House members for Rangel to somehow deal with the issue before a public hearing later this week.

Both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, told reporters Monday that they have not spoken to Rangel about the ethics issues.

"The fact is the [ethics] committee has made its announcement and its timetable and we will just have to wait to see how that plays out," Pelosi said of the panel's meeting Thursday, when it is expected to detail the allegations against Rangel.

However, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who is heavily involved in House Democratic re-election efforts, said Rangel needs to look at big picture regarding his political legacy.

"I think Mr. Rangel would be wise to evaluate what's best not only for him, but also for the causes he has advanced for as many years as he has in his long career," Wasserman Schultz said.

She had no information about any possible settlement Rangel might try to reach with the ethics committee prior to the upcoming hearing, but said having possible ethics allegations aired in public at the hearing was "certainly not helpful."

Democratic leadership aides, speaking on condition of not being identified by name, denied any direct effort by House leaders to broker a settlement between Rangel and the ethics committee, but they acknowledged the issue was a potential problem in an election year.

One aide said members hoped that Rangel "could come to some sort of agreement with the ethics committee and avoid this."

After a nearly two-year probe, the committee's report coming Thursday could bring a trial by a panel subcommittee in September.

"There's a growing sense of unease about the spectacle that may come from a September hearing," one of the leadership aides told CNN. The aide added such a distraction would be unhelpful in the current political environment less than 100 days before congressional midterm elections in November.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus, warned against a "rush to judgment" in the Rangel case.

"Attempts by Republicans and Democrats to presume guilt before the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct completes its review of the facts, which are only known to them and Congressman Rangel, violates the core American principle of the presumption of innocence," Lee said in a statement.

As of Monday, only one House Democrat, Rep. Betty Sutton of Ohio, had called for Rangel to step down. At least two other Democrats - Rep. Brad Ellsworth, the Senate nominee in Indiana, and Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, a Pennsylvania Democrat - have pledged to donate to charity any campaign contributions received from Rangel.

On the GOP side, the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, told reporters that "it is important that we tone down the politics and let the ethics committee do its job."

At the same time, the National Republican Campaign Committee continued criticizing House Democrats who have yet to return political contributions from Rangel.

The committee sent a series of e-mails to reporters Monday that linked House Democrats facing tough re-election bids to Rangel. In the e-mails, the committee argued the House Democrats took "dirty campaign contributions" and are aligned with Rangel's "notorious ethics problems."

Utah Democrat Jim Matheson, one of the Democrats targeted by Republicans, told CNN he is not hearing any concerns about Rangel from his constituents. He said he wants to know the specific charges before he makes a judgment.

Matheson acknowledged he received campaign contributions from Rangel for previous elections, saying, "that money has already been spent."

Rangel has admitted a failure to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic and to report several hundred thousand dollars in assets on federal disclosure forms. In addition, questions have been raised about his purported misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes, and whether he preserved tax benefits for an oil-drilling company in exchange for donations to a project he supported at the City College of New York.

Filed under: Charlie Rangel • Democrats • House
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Keith in Austin

    Uncle Charlie will be trading in his expensive Brooks Brothers Suits for a government-issued Orange one!

    July 26, 2010 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  2. Proud member of Global Zero

    Transparency is always a good thing. I can't wait to hear everything that Ensign did, or Vitter, or the C Street house. Is that going to be open to viewing too?

    WE need honest politicians that will work for us on both sides of the isle. I will wait until I hear the proof before I pass judgement.

    July 26, 2010 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    This may just give the Dems a black eye.

    July 26, 2010 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  4. floridian

    "Democratic leadership aides........they acknowledged the issue was a potential problem in an election year."

    I'm sorry, but this issue is a problem ANY TIME. It took them two years to validate what has taken place and was in the public domain. I would venture that they spent most of that time trying to find an out for Mr. Rangel.

    July 26, 2010 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  5. Florencio Mendiola Jr.

    It will not surprise me if the commitee finds something negative. In the end, the truth comes out, it may not be tomorrow, however, time has a way of revealing the truth.

    In my opinion, most politicians are dishonest and are not to be trusted, as a matter of fact, our governmental history bares this out. There is so much abuse of powers in our government struture. The sad story is, we all know this! And it goes on and on...

    Let the punishment fit the crime!

    July 26, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  6. Hugo

    Charlie Rangel is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the corrupt network of self serving pigs we now have in Congress. Look at them all, audit ALL of them, when you put an entity in charge of regulating their own pay checks, their own ethics laws, and their own financial well being you get what we now have, CORRUPTION. If this isn't the wake up call for America to vote everyone of these political elitists out of office and put in some fresh new blood in OUR Government then no matter who or what we get in 2012 will just be more of the same.

    July 26, 2010 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  7. Tom-Vermillion, Ohio

    The Democrats don't know what to do? That's easy with all the crap going on in the GOP. Set a good example by throwing this bum out of the Democratic Party, end of story. Warn other Democrats that such behavior will be NOT be tolerated. Just because the Republicans think its okay to be unethical and corrupt doe not mean its okay for the Democrats. Our country is in trouble, we all know it, we don't have time for this nonsense. Always take the high road. I want to see 'integrity with character' in Congress and the White House. And might I add that President Obama is doing an excellent job and should be viewed as a role model. And, I've done some research and thinking, every government in history is a form of 'socialism'. The question to the GOP is, what kind of socialism are you trying to sell to the American People?

    July 26, 2010 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  8. Gil

    I guess they should be, but there have been enough Party of No crooks around that somehow get off the hook. The power of special interest!

    July 26, 2010 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  9. Victim of Puritan Neo-Clan

    I wonder how many others in Congress from both parties have done far worse than than Rangel with IRS tax returns. Or you know...instead of manipulating the facts on tax returns, manipulated the facts about war for oil so the corporations they served could make lots of $.

    July 26, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  10. Jane

    Imagine that.....kinda like cockroaches scattering when you turn on the lights.

    July 26, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  11. Four and The Door

    Why would a guy with so much going for him find himself defending against such mindless ethics violations? Could these at all been worth the shame of discovery? What is the atmosphere in Washington politics that leads people to this kind of behavior? Sad what is becoming of what used to be a respectful profession of public service.

    July 26, 2010 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  12. snow

    Hey, if he is guilty he should be expelled and thrown in prison. There are at least 08 more demorats that are sweating if the ethics committee is going to come for them. I hope when the Republicans take back the congress they have the ethics committe investigate any and all allegations of improper behavior. It's for certain, the demorats will not investigate demorats unless they are forced into it like with rangel.

    July 27, 2010 12:03 am at 12:03 am |