*House investigators today officially accused veteran New York Rep. Charles Rangel of 13 violations of congressional ethics standards, throwing a cloud over his political career and putting Democrats in a pickle throughout 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 reached, sources tell the Associated Press, 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
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.
“The chips will have to fall where they may politically,” she told reporters. Pursuing ethics cases against House members is “a serious responsibility that we have,” she said.