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Rangel Denies Impeding Settlement of Ethics Charges

Rep. Charlie Rangel denied through his attorneys Sunday that he is at fault for failing to reach a settlement with a House ethics subcommittee over allegations that the New York Democrat violated House rules and federal laws. Negotiations are ongoing to avoid a public ethics trial this September, a statement said.

“Congressman Rangel is the one who initiated the investigation and has publicly acknowledged he made mistakes,” Zuckerman Spaeder lawyer Leslie Kiernan said in a statement Sunday. “He has made several good faith attempts to resolve this matter and remains hopeful that it will be resolved. Speculation that he is the impediment to an appropriate resolution of this matter is untrue.”

A subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct charged Rangel on Thursday with 13 counts of wrongdoing, including allegations that he misused federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, accepted a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office, failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms.

Rangel, who first called for an inquiry into his actions in July 2008, acknowledged last week that his attorneys remained in negotiations with House ethics committee staff in an attempt to reach a settlement.

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), who chaired the subcommittee that investigated the allegations for nearly two years, said Friday that his subcommittee had recommended that Rangel be reprimanded — a punishment that would require a full vote of the House but falls short of either censure or expulsion from the chamber.

Roll Call reported Friday that Green’s panel met with Rangel three times, including once last year under oath and twice in the past two or three months, to discuss a possible settlement.

Green said negotiations must now be carried out with a special adjudicatory subcommittee that is tasked with reviewing the allegations against Rangel and determining whether he is guilty of the charges.

But at a hearing Thursday to unveil the charges, Republican members of the House ethics committee seemed to indicate that the ethics trial must take place.

“There has been talk in the media about Mr. Rangel negotiating a settlement,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the ranking member of the adjudicatory panel, said Thursday. “Let me be clear that Mr. Rangel under these rules was given opportunities to negotiate a settlement during the investigation phase. We are now in the trial phase.”

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