Thursday, July 29, 2010

GOP: NO DEAL! TRIAL! Panel hits Rangel with 13 alleged ethics charges

House investigators accused veteran New York Rep. Charles Rangel of 13 violations of congressional ethics standards on Thursday, throwing a cloud over his four-decade political career and raising worries for fellow Democrats about the fall elections.

The allegations — which include failure to report rental income from vacation property in the Dominican Republic and to report more than $600,000 in assets on his congressional financial disclosure statements — came as lawyers for Rangel and the House ethics committee worked on a plea deal.

One was struck, people familiar with the talks said, but Republicans indicated it was too late.

The deal between the lawyers will have little meaning if the committee members don't approve it, and Republicans said at the proceeding they were insisting on going forward with a trial. The panel is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

"Mr. Rangel was given multiple opportunities to settle this matter. Instead, he chose to move forward to the public trial phase," said Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, the senior Republican on the ethics panel

Chairman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., has made clear that she wants the committee to be unanimous — leaving little chance for agreement without Rangel capitulating on virtually all counts.

Many Democrats had urged Rangel to settle the case to avoid the prospect of televised hearings right before November congressional elections that will determine which party controls Congress next year.

However, as Friday's public airing of the charges drew nearer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem resigned to the case proceeding. READ MORE...

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