Rangel Stalls on Vow to Hire Tax-Fix
By Isabel Vincent
November 2, 2008
Rep. Charles Rangel has not hired the forensic
accountant he said he needed in order to provide answers
regarding his messy tax records, The Post has learned.
Meanwhile, the Harlem Democrat has paid more than
$120,000 in campaign money to a law firm to represent him in
Rangel, the powerful chairman of the tax-writing Ways and
Means Committee, paid $121,436 in fees to the Chicago office
of Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe on Oct. 1. The payment
came from his campaign fund, Rangel for Congress.
One of the law firm's partners, Washington-based Lanny
Davis, was hired shortly after The Post revealed in August
that Rangel had not disclosed rental income on a Dominican
Republic beachfront villa.
Federal Election Commission rules prohibit elected
officials from using campaign funds for personal legal
expenses, and review such expenses on a case-by-case basis.
George Dalley, Rangel's chief of staff, said the
congressman had hired an attorney with specialized knowledge
of the FEC to clear the legal expenses with the agency.
"We have a prior ruling that this is a legitimate
campaign expense," he said, adding that there was an
exchange of letters between the FEC and Rangel's lawyer.
But a spokeswoman for the FEC said she has no record of
Rangel or his legal representative applying for a
determination from the agency.
"The FEC requires campaigns to get approval before using
campaign funds for any legal expenses that may in fact be
personal," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal
and Policy Center, an ethics-watchdog group based in
"Any legal issue of whether Rep. Rangel paid his taxes
appears to be a personal legal issue with nothing to do with
Rangel's role as a congressman or candidate."
Although Rangel has retained an attorney to aid him in
the scandal, he has failed to live up to his public vow to
hire a forensic accountant to pore over his tax filings and
financial records to figure out if he still owes Uncle Sam
money for income earned on his Dominican villa.
In a statement released on Sept. 15, Rangel announced he
would "conduct a thorough, independent review of all these
statements going back 20 years as well as all of my US,
state and local tax returns for the same time period."
He said he would turn over the findings to the House
Ethics Committee, which is probing several issues. Those
include revenue from the villa, Rangel's use of
rent-stabilized apartments as offices in Harlem, and his use
of congressional stationery to solicit contributions for an
academic center to be named after him.
Following a Post investigation, Rangel admitted he failed
to pay tax on at least $75,000 in rental income from his
Dominican villa over the past 20 years. Later, he revealed
he also failed to disclose the sale of a house he and wife
Alma owned in Washington, and their $70,000 profit on a
Florida condominium they bought in 2004 and sold in 2006.
Dalley said that despite a lengthy search, an accountant
had not yet been hired. "I have heard a name mentioned, but
no one has been hired," he said Friday.
In an interview published last Tuesday in the DC
newspaper Roll Call, Davis attributed the delay to
difficulty finding a truly independent firm that does not
have business before the Ways and Means Committee nor has
made contributions to Rangel's campaign.
But at least one leading auditor called the assertion
"Many people . . . would have no problem doing the
audit," said Michael Kessler, president and CEO of Kessler
International, a leading forensic-accounting firm in New