Facing a mountain of lawyer bills and the possibility of a fresh round of ethics charges, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) is asking supporters to contribute to his new legal trust fund.
The Harlem Democrat was censured by the House Dec. 3 for ethics violations including failure to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic home and illegally using a rental apartment as a campaign office. His peers voted 333 to 79 to censure him, the strongest sanction for a House member short of expulsion.
Furthering his legal trouble, the National Legal and Policy Center filed another complaint against the 40-year house veteran earlier this month alleging he violated election laws by using campaign money to pay his legal fees in the ethics case. The Federal Election Commission is currently investigating the allegations.
The Charles B. Rangel Legal Expense Trust will aid in meeting expenses from the previous suit and any future allegations.
Rangel supporters received an e-mail Dec. 27 from a private fund raiser asking for donations up to $5,000 to support it, CNN reported. Individuals and corporations can legally contribute to the trust fund, the e-mail said, but federally-registered lobbyists can not.
“Many supporters have encouraged this for a while as it is becoming clear that there are those who will continue to mine and instigate further allegations,” the e-mail read in part.
Rangel in a statement said the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct authorized the trust, so he “can retain counsel for on-going activities related to the recently-concluded ethics investigations and other on-going matters.”
According to Minority News, H. Carl McCall, former New York state comptroller, will serve as the fund’s trustee.
“The repeated filings of allegations, no matter how unsubstantiated, by the National Legal Policy Committee, a politically-motivated right-wing group dedicated to eviscerating civil rights and labor union protections, have led me to this action,” Rangel said in his statement. “All contributions to the Trust will be reported as required on a quarterly basis with the Committee as well as the Legislative Resource Center for public disclosure.”
In his defense throughout the lengthy ethics investigation, he admitted improprieties but denied corruption. “While I committed serious violation of the rules of the House, none of those violations included corruption, intent, self-dealing, self-enrichment or quid pro quos involving any official action.”
In the midst of the investigations, the 80-year-old congressman was re-elected to a 21st term last November.