Embattled Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) Wednesday acknowledged he owes about $5,000 in back taxes to the federal government and a similar amount in state and city taxes on rental income from a vacation property. But he pushed back against Republican demands he give up his gavel while the ethics committee probes the issue, along with two others involving the veteran Harlem legislator.
Rangel, in an hourlong news conference, presented a letter he has sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in which he said he takes full responsibility for his failure to pay the taxes. In the letter, he said he regrets any embarrassment to my fellow members of Congress and colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee which may have been caused by unfair and inaccurate reports in the press concerning my handling of details of my personal finances related to the beach house in the Dominican Republic.
Rangel said he felt embarrassed for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), whom he suggested felt politically compelled to request that Pelosi strip Rangel of his chairmanship.
The New York Democrat has filed a complaint against himself with the ethics committee in the hope of clearing himself of any wrongdoing in the episode. The move comes shortly after Rangel requested the ethics panel examine two other headline-making controversies dogging him this summer: his living arrangements and the use of rent-controlled apartments in New York City and his fundraising efforts for a City College center bearing his name.