Breakdown: Rangel's 13 Charges

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was officially charged by the House Committee of Standards of Official Conduct (“ethics committee”) with 13 counts of conduct in violation of House ethics and federal law.

The charges, which are the equivalent of a Congressional indictment, were made public at a hearing on Thursday.

The Statement of Alleged Violations (SAV) which lays out the entirety of the charges can be found here on the committee website

Supporting evidence including documentation ranging from copies of emails to charts of comparative summaries of tax filings can be found here.

The scathing SAV report of charges is 40 pages in length.  Rangel is referred to as “Respondent” throughout, so in keeping with that norm, a summary of the 13 counts charged:

Count I:  Conduct in Violation of the Solicitation and Gift Ban

Between 2005 and 2008, Respondent is charged with a “pattern of soliciting for donations and other things of value on behalf of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at the City College of New York.”  The charges also state the entities solicited “were seeking official action from the House and/or had interests that might be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of Respondent’s official duties.” This conduct violates U.S. Code Section 7353.

Count II: Conduct in Violation of Code of Ethics for Government Service

Contributions were made to the Rangel Center at the request of the Respondent by persons with interests before the Ways and Means Committee.  Reasonable persons could conclude the contributions influenced the performance of Rangel’s official duties.  This conduct violates Clause 5 of the Code of Ethics for Government Service.

Count III:  Conduct in Violation of the House Gift Rule

Respondent solicited contributions for the Rangel Center and has a personal interest in the Rangel Center.  Violates Clause 4 of House Rule XXIII.

Count IV: Conduct in Violation of Postal Service Laws and Franking Commission Regulations

Put simply, franking laws allow public officials to send mail bearing their signature in place of postage but can only used for official business.  Respondent used his frank to solicit funds and for the benefit of the Rangel Center in violation of U.S. Code Sections 3210 and 3215.

Count V:  Conduct in Violation of Franking Statue

Respondent used his frank on materials that were not official business.  Violation of Section 1719 of Title 18, “whoever makes use of any official envelope, label, or indorsement [sic] authorized by law, to avoid the payment of postage or registry fee on his private letter, packet, package, or other matter in the mail, shall be fined under this title.”

Count VII: Conduct in Violation of the Purpose Law and the Member’s Congressional Handbook

Respondent used House employees and other official House resources for work related to the Rangel Center including staff time, telephones, House email accounts, other office equipment and supplies, and the frank paid by member office funds.  Violates the Member’s Handbook and 31 U.S. Code Section 1301.

Count VIII: Conduct in Violation of the Letterhead Rule

Respondent used official letterhead bearing “Congress of the United States,” “House of Representatives,” or “Official Business” for letters pertaining to the Rangel Center.  Violates House Rule XXIII, Clause 11.

Count IX: Conduct in Violation of the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) and House Rule XXVI

Respondent engaged in a pattern of submitting Financial Disclosure Statements that were incomplete and inaccurate.  Respondent failed to report numerous items required to be reported during the period 1998 to 2008.  Respondent erroneously reported numerous items required to be reported  1998 to 2007.  Respondent did not file amendments as required within the calendar year but filed after investigation began.

Pending investigatory action discredits quality of initial filings.  Respondent failed to establish amendments were filed in good faith.  Violates EIGA.

Count X:  Conduct in Violation of Code of Ethics for Government Service

Respondent received a rent stabilized residential apartment used as office space for Rangel for Congress and National Leadership PAC limited “for living purposes only” in contravention of the terms of the lease as a favor or benefit.  Violates Clause 5 of Ethics for Government Service.

Count XI:  Conduct in Violation of Code of Ethics for Government Service

Respondent failed to report rental income related to Punta Cana villa owned in the Dominican Republic. 

Conduct violates 5 U.S. Code Section 7353, 39 U.S. Code Section 3210, 39 U.S. Code Section 3215, 18 U.S. Code 1719, Franking Regulations, House Office Building Commission’s Regulations, 31 U.S. Code 1301, Member’s Congressional Handbook, the Ethics in Government Act, Code of Ethics for Government Service and the Internal Revenue Code.

Count XII:  Conduct in Violation of Code of Conduct: Letter and Spirit of House Rules

Violation of House Rule XXIII, Clause 2 which states that a member “shall adhere to the spirit and the letter of the Rules of the House and to the rules of duly constituted committees thereof.”

Count XIII:  Conduct in Violation of the Code of Conduct: Conduct Reflecting Discreditably on the House

Respondent’s improper solicitations of potential donors to the Rangel Center, acceptance of favors and benefits from donors might be construed by a reasonable person as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.

The House is set to recess later today for the August break, returning the week after Labor Day.

The adjudicatory subcommittee tasked with conducting the trial must allow Rangel 25 days to prepare his defense, which brings about a trial date sometime in September.

All documentation on the matter released by the ethics committee can be found on their website here

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) is the ranking Republican on the adjudicatory subcommittee.  In his opening statement he indicated the time for negotiating a settlement ended with the investigation phase of proceedings.

“There has been talk in the media about Mr. Rangel negotiating a settlement. Let me be clear that Mr. Rangel under these rules was given opportunities to negotiate a settlement during the investigation phase. We are now in the trial phase,” McCaul said at the public hearing.  “And the American people deserve to hear the truth in this case and the charges against him. And that is precisely why we are having this hearing today. The Speaker has said we are entering into an era of transparency and accountability. I agree, let us begin today. Let justice be served.”