By Susan Crabtree - 10/16/09 07:29 PM EDT
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has doled out
a total of $1 million in legal fees since details about his tangled web
of alleged tax and financial violations first broke last year.
The embattled 37-year veteran of the House shelled out $255,000 in legal fees to two firms and one single attorney in the past four months, according to this most recent campaign finance report.
At Rangel’s request, the ethics committee launched an investigation in September last year after reports first appeared that he failed to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. The ethics committee is also reviewing Rangel’s interest-free loan on the villa, as well as his use of congressional letterhead to solicit fundraising contributions for an education center bearing his name at the City College of New York.
As new allegations have surfaced, the ethics panel has expanded the investigation three times, most recently earlier this month after Rangel amended his congressional financial disclosure records to show at least $600,000 in assets that he failed to previously report.
Legal expenses also drained Rep. Peter Visclosky’s (D-Ind.) coffers this quarter to the tune of $100,000. He is the only lawmaker with close ties to the shuttered lobbying firm PMA Group, which is under investigation by the FBI, who reported substantial payments to attorneys this year.
Earlier this year, Visclosky’s top aides were subpoenaed as part of the Justice Department probe. After that occurred, Visclosky requested and received permissions from the Federal Election Commission to pay legal fees related to the subpoenas from his campaign funds.
Reps. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), two other lawmakers with strong PMA ties, made only small payments for legal services this cycle.