Rep. Charles Rangel may have violated House rules by using almost $400,000 in funds from his National Leadership PAC to pay legal bills he ran up in response to his alleged ethics violations.
Members of Congress may use funds from their personal re-election committees for legal expenses related to their official actions, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, which was responsible for disclosures that led to some of the ethics allegations.
But the National Leadership PAC is not Rangel’s re-election committee, but a “leadership PAC” set up to make contributions to other candidates, and “Rangel appears to have violated House rules,” NLPC observed.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, the New York Democrat paid $1.65 million to lawyers from his re-election fund, in addition to the nearly $400,000 from his leadership PAC.
Rangel walked out on a House ethics panel weighing charges against him as the proceedings were about to begin on Monday morning.
He told the panel he had already spent $2 million on lawyers, and needed time to raise $1 million to retain new counsel for the hearing.
Rangel paid $100,000 from his leadership PAC and $100,000 from his re-election fund to Washington lawyer Lanny Davis, according to NLPC.
Rangel retained Davis after NLPC exposed Rangel’s failure to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Davis is the author of a book advising public figures on how to deal with scandal, NLPC notes.
The Center opines: “The Ethics Committee must add Rangel’s use of leadership PAC funds for his legal fees to the currently pending 13 counts announced on July 22.”
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