Common Cause Calls for Expansion of Rangel Investigation

Common Cause on Tuesday called on the House Ethics Committee to expand its investigation of Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) to include recent reports that he allegedly granted a legislative favor to a company the same day that he asked its CEO to donate money to his public service center at the City College of New York.

“As the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Rangel will be tremendously influential in work around the economic bailout and crisis and we cannot afford to have lingering questions about his conduct,” Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, wrote to the Ethics Committee. “One of the most important goals for Congress is to restore trust in the markets rattled by the meltdown of the housing and credit industries. The questions raised in news reports recently about possible inappropriate relationships between Representative Rangel and the private institutions affected by his decisions could undermine the credibility of Congress’ efforts to deal with our deep economic problems.”

The Ethics Committee is believed to have initiated an investigation of Representative Rangel in September to look into his reported lease of rent-controlled apartments in New York City; his use of official parking spot in a House garage; and his use of official letterhead for fundraising purposes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last week that she expects the Committee to complete the investigation by January 3, 2009. Common Cause requested the ethics investigation also include questions raised in a New York Times story last week alleging that Congressman Rangel did a legislative favor for a donor to his public service center at the City College of New York.

“We ask that the Ethics Committee be as forthcoming and transparent as it can be during this investigative process,” Edgar wrote. “We ask the committee to make public its findings into Representative Rangel’s possible ethics violations as soon as possible. Any decision regarding Representative Rangel’s continued chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee should be based on the findings of a fair and thorough investigation.”