First it was NBC and then ABC and the internet went crazy, the reports all said that America’s dirtiest Congressman was about to give up his Chairmanship of the most powerful committee in the House, The Ways and Means Committee.
After being admonished by an ethics panel for accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean, Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., will give his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means committee, NBC News has learned.
The top spot may temporarily go to Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., according to leadership sources, or to Rep. Pete Stark of California, the committee’s second-ranking Democrat.
The problem is it didn’t seem as if anyone told Charlie. About ten minutes after the initial reports this popped up on Rick Klein’s twitter
According to and ABC report, Rangel “is negotiating with Democratic leaders for a temporary demotion, while the ethics investigations into his conduct unfold.
After meeting with Rangel tonight, Nancy Pelosi initially said, “No comment” when asked if Rangel remains panel chairman.
She added, “I guess he is still chair of Ways and Means…”
Rangel’s fate took a major downturn this morning when he lost support from one of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have been adamant in their support of the NY Democrat.
Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., became the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus to demand that Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., step down as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Representative Rangel has had a long and distinguished career and I respect his leadership, but I believe Congress needs to do more to restore the public trust,” Davis said in a written statement. “An ethics committee admonishment is a serious event and Representative Rangel should do the right thing and step aside as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.”
Davis went on to say that he “will consider returning the $1,000 contribution he made to my 2008 re-election campaign.”
The big push to boot Rangel comes on the heals of a House Republican move to pass a resolution on Wednesday that would require Rangel to drop his Ways and Means chairmanship. Democratic leadership is trying to delay the move till Friday, giving them time to work out something with Rangel.
Sources indicated to NBC that Rangel has been encouraged to step aside before the House votes on a bill to strip him of his chairmanship.
“We don’t have the votes to save him,” one Democratic member said of Rangel.
Nor should he be saved “Junket-gate” is only the first of many ethics charges facing the man in charge of writing tax policy for the entire country to be ruled on. Others include “forgetting” to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property, allegations he improperly used his influence to maintain ownership of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, misuse of his congressional office to fundraise for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, and preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding.
Beyond that, when the ethics heat started Rangel amended his financial disclosure reports, which doubled his reported wealth. (He somehow “forgot” about $1 million in assets.) And what did he do when the House Ethics Committee started looking into all of this? He started making “campaign contributions” to dig his way out of trouble. According to WCBS TV in NY:
“The reigning member of Congress’ top tax committee is apparently ‘wrangling’ other politicos to get him out of his own financial and tax troubles…Since ethics probes began last year the 79-year-old congressman has given campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him.”
Republicans have been calling for Charlie Rangel to lose his Chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee for months, and by the looks of it they will get their wish by the end of the week.