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By Samuel R. Avro on Dec 9, 2008 with no responses

Congress Expands Rangel Ethics Probe

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The House Ethics Committee is looking into whether Charles Rangel, D-NY, helped keep a tax loophole in place in order to favor an oil company.

The House ethics committee voted to expand an investigation of Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. The issue revolves around allegations that the Democratic senator from New York preserved a tax loophole in order to save an oil drilling company tens of millions of dollars. The congressman is accused of doing it after the head of that company pledged a $1 million donation to a college center names after Mr. Rangel.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, had previously expected the investigation to be concluded in early January, but with the current expansion into the allegations it will likely stretch well past that time.

The committee will look into contributions and pledges made to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York, particularly one made by Eugene M. Isenberg, CEO of Nabors Industries, Ltd.

Republicans have called on Mr. Rangel, 78, to step down from his chairmanship position of the powerful Ways and Means panel while the investigation takes place.

The congressman maintains his innocence and says that he has always opposed the kind of change to the tax law that would have cost Nabors Industries tens of millions of dollars.

The ethics committee has already been probing a number of other issues that involve Mr. Rangel. They are looking into his failure to pay taxes on rental income he received from a beach house in the Dominican Republic, his use of three rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, including one of them which was used as a campaign office, and letters that Rangel wrote on congressional stationary in order to drum up donors for the college center named after him.