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AP source: Ethics panel finds Rangel broke rules

Larry Margasak

Rep. Charles Rangel, the most powerful tax-writing lawmaker in Congress and a 34-year veteran of Capitol Hill, knowingly accepted Caribbean trips from a corporation in violation of House rules, the House Ethics Committee ruled Thursday, The Associated Press has learned.

At least four other members of the Congressional Black Caucus who were also on the 2007 and 2008 trips were exonerated by the panel, according to a congressional source familiar with the findings.

The finding is certain to jeopardize Rangel's chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee. The tax-writing committee will take a lead as Congress determines the fate of former President George W. Bush's expiring tax cuts.

Rengel's ethics troubles also present an election-year dilemma for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led a Democratic takeover of the House in 2006 on a campaign promise to end a "culture of corruption" in the GOP-led Congress.

The 79-year-old Rengel, D-N.Y., has been in the House 30 years. It was unclear whether the findings would affect whether he seeks re-election.

The committee found that the financing of the Caribbean trips was improper for all the lawmakers involved but that only Rangel was aware that a corporation that routinely lobbied Congress picked up the tab, said the congressional official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

The committee decided against issuing formal charges against Rangel that could lead to punishment such as a censure.

The ethics committee will issue its findings in a report scheduled to be made public Friday.

Additional ethics investigations of Rangel's finances and fundraising are still under way, but they are not connected to the ruling on the Caribbean travel.

Rangel had no immediate comment.

The Associated Press
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