Friday, October 17, 2008
Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel admits he messed up taxes, owes $5,000
BY JAMES GORDON MEEK
DAILY NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU
September 11th 2008
WASHINGTON - Rep. Charles Rangel is refusing to step down from the top job on an influential congressional tax committee amid several ethics charges, including fudging his tax returns.
"I personally feel I've done nothing morally wrong," the Harlem Democrat said in a lengthy Capitol meeting with reporters.
His lawyer Lanny Davis admitted Rangel owes almost $8,000 in unpaid federal and state income taxes since 2004 on rental income from his villa in Dominican Republic. Rangel put the figure at $5,000.
Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio - whom Rangel said "truly has been my friend" - moved to sanction the 19-term congressman over the ethics lapses.
Boehner has demanded Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) boot Rangel from his perch running the House Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel said he is "embarrassed" for Boehner and feels sorry for the GOP leader "that he feels he needs to do this."
"I'm a lucky old son of a gun," Rangel said, flashing a grin, "and ain't nothin' gonna stop me from gettin' back here next year."
Rangel has asked the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to probe his beach house deal, his ownership of four rent-stabilized apartments in New York City and using congressional stationery to raise funds for a City College program.
Told that he was named today by the left-leaning watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as one of Congress' "most corrupt," the alternately bombastic and charming Rangel was suddenly quiet.
"Am I on the list?" he asked after a stunned moment. "I think that's sad and unfair."
His accountant and lawyers are now asking the Internal Revenue Service for his last 20 years of tax filings, even though there is a three-year criminal statute of limitations, Davis said.
Though Rangel admitted failing to report $75,000 in rental income over 20 years was an "irresponsible omission" for the chairman of the panel which writes the tax code, he said he never made any money off the house.
Sometimes he loaned it to other Democratic and GOP lawmakers at a discount.
"Receiving money wasn't a big deal to me," Rangel said.
(Looks like Joe the Plumber isn't the only one who owes taxes! VN8)