The House ethics committee wagged its finger at Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., on Thursday for taking corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008, a violation of congressional rules. But those trips are just the tip of the iceberg of ethics allegations that Rangel is facing. (Here’s our backgrounder on the panoply of allegations against Rangel.)
The Caribbean trips were organized by the nonprofit Carib News Foundation and attended by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has itself come under scrutiny lately. The ethics committee found that the other members were in the clear because the nonprofit misled them about the sources of funding. Two members of Rangel’s staff, however, knew that corporations had contributed funds to the nonprofit specifically for those Caribbean conferences. (The sources of funding were hardly a secret, though: The event’s program clearly listed its corporate sponsors, according to The Wall Street Journal, and conference posters were dotted with corporate logos.)
The fact that the trips were paid for by corporations was first reported by the New York Post and the conservative National Legal and Policy Center, which filed the complaint (PDF) with the ethics committee.
Rangel defended himself on Thursday night, saying, "I don’t want to be critical of the committee, but common sense dictates that members of Congress should not be held responsible for what could be the wrongdoing or mistakes or errors of staff, unless there’s reason to believe that the member knew or should have known. And there’s nothing in the record to indicate the latter."
Rangel may have a few more tussles with the ethics committee in his future.
According to Politico, the ethics committee is "continuing to investigate several other matters involving Rangel, including one involving his use of a rent-controlled apartment in New York and another involving allegations that he used his congressional office to raise funds for a New York research center that bears his name." Those investigations are dragging on …
Read our full backgrounder on Rangel’s troubles.