Too little, too late: Republicans on July 29 said they would refuse to sweep under the rug U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel's 13 alleged violations of congressional ethics standards.
Democrats did not want a September spotlight on Rangel's alleged failure to report on his congressional financial disclosure statement rental cash from the Dominican Republic and $600,000 of other income, but a committee trial within two months of November's election now seems inevitable unless the GOP caves.
The House of Representatives ethics panel includes eight members, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans. Thus, for any deal to be accepted it must be approved by at least one Republican, but Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the top Republican on the ethics panel, said the Democrat had been "given the opportunity to negotiate a settlement during the investigation phase. . . . We are now in the trial phase."
Amid questions surrounding his finances and real estate holdings, Rangel stepped down as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in March. Rangel, who has had a big role in tax legislation over the years, allegedly did not pay federal taxes on his Dominican property, used a rent-stabilized property in Manhattan for his campaign office, and broke other rules.
Rank-and-file Democrats called on Rangel, fourth in seniority in the House, to resign, but he refused. He will seek renomination to his seat in New York's Sept. 14 primary. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reflected his caucus's concern: "I think everybody would like to have it go away. . . ."
On July 27, reports surfaced that Rangel, 80, tried to cut a deal-but negotiations excluded Republican members of the Ethics Committee. The controversy is occurring just four years after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to curtail Washington corruption.