By Bob Cusack - 07/30/10 11:23 AM EDT
Documents released Thursday evening show that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and an ethics panel investigating him were constantly at odds over the last two years.
The contentious relationship between the 20-term lawmaker and the ethics committee that concluded Rangel had violated House rules sheds new light on why a settlement wasn’t reached before Thursday’s public hearing.
The investigative subcommittee, led by Reps. Gene GreenGene GreenIn praise of trauma care—dozens saved by heroes of Orlando’s level one trauma center Dems who sat out the sit-in offer array of reasons GOP surprises with push for smaller ObamaCare changes MORE (D-Texas) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), claimed that Rangel made misleading statements to the press about the investigation and had to subpoena the New York Democrat to secure certain information.
Rangel asserted the ethics panel investigating him violated his constitutional rights, but committee leaders strongly denied that charge.
They also said the reason the probe took two years to complete was because Rangel did not meet deadlines.
The committee wrote, “[Rangel’s] failure to abide by the deadlines set by the Investigative Subcommittee was troubling.”
Throughout 2010, the committee attracted criticism for its lengthy probe of the 80-year-old legislator.
Earlier this year, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, publicly urged the ethics committee to finish its work on Rangel “expeditiously.”
The ethics report released Thursday stated, “The inquiry was delayed in several instances by the actions of [Rangel] and his counsel, particularly with respect to the production of documents and a forensic accountant’s report.”
Rangel promised to provide investigators with a forensic accountant’s report, but did not do so until six months after announcing he was hiring such an accountant, the report said.
Green and Bonner indicated that the lack of cooperation was so bad that investigators needed to issue a subpoena to Rangel.
Late last month, Rangel formally urged the panel to abandon the case. It took only two days for the committee to deny the request in a 20-page response.
Investigators appeared especially irritated with Rangel’s statement to the press on June 6. At the time, he said, “…if they’re so confused after 18 months that they can’t find anything, then that is a story.”
Green and Bonner wrote, “That statement was made nine days after the Investigative Subcommittee had transmitted a copy of the proposed Statement of Alleged Violation to [Rangel].”
They added Rangel made another “misleading” statement when he told the media on July 7, “There is no accusation against me doing something wrong except by the press.”
“This statement,” Green and Bonner wrote, “was made 21 days after the Statement of Alleged Violation had been adopted by the Investigative Subcommittee and transmitted to [Rangel].”
The lawmakers added that due to the ethics committee rules on confidentiality, “the Investigative Subcommittee was unable to publicly respond to these inaccurate comments.”
In another document, the ethics panel mocks Rangel’s claims he did not violate the House gift ban: “Congress intended for the Solicitation and Gift Ban to be broad, particularly with respect to Members of Congress. … While the statute does not speak of business before a particular committee (as opposed to the House generally), it bears noting that the one committee that touches everyone is the Ways and Means Committee. There being no committee on death, the only certain thing in life is covered within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.”
Rangel was the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee when he allegedly broke House rules.
In his public comments at an ethics forum on Thursday, Green pointed out he was submitting a statement for the record to respond to Rangel’s public statement.
Green said Rangel “refuted repeated requests” for documents and made “spurious” arguments, and rebukes the Harlem legislator’s assertions that investigators violated his constitutional rights.
He also suggested Rangel and his attorneys didn’t follow proper procedures, stating that some of Rangel’s submissions were not signed under oath.
The Texas Democrat took issue with many of Rangel’s other arguments, strongly defending his panel’s investigation.