Ethics Committee Releases Report on Caribbean Trips

Posted February 26, 2010 at 2:02pm

The House ethics committee released its 2,498-page report Friday ruling that two Caribbean trips involving six Members violated House rules — although it exonerated all but Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) of intentional wrongdoing — and disclosing hundreds of pages of receipts and other documents showing corporate sponsorship of the events.

The report follows the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct’s announcement Thursday night that after its investigation into travel sponsored by the Carib News Foundation in 2007 and 2008, it found that the trips violated House gift rules because of prohibitions on corporate contributions and that it had approved the trips based on “false and misleading information.”

The committee exonerated five of the six Members of wrongdoing — Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) and Del. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) — but admonished Rangel after ruling that his staff were aware that some of the funding came from prohibited sources, even if he himself did not know.

“The Investigative Subcommittee found that Members who attended the conferences, other than Representative Charles Rangel, did not knowingly accept an improper gift of travel,” the report states.

According to the report, portions of the 2007 and 2008 conferences were sponsored with funds provided from AT&T, Verizon and American Airlines to the Carib News Foundation, a private nonprofit group based in New York, specifically for the conferences. The government of Antigua and Barbuda also paid some of the costs of one of the conferences.