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Second Congressman Allegedly Misuses House Stationery

First it was Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., who was accused of misusing Congressional stationery.

Add to the list House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

Rahall says he used Congressional letterhead for a February 14, 2005 missive asking a Fairfax, Va., County judge for leniency in connection with a robbery case involving his then 27-year-old son, Nick Joe Rahall III.

"I should have used different personal letterhead," the elder Rahall said, who noted he wasn't acting in his position as a Congressman, but as a dad. "I may have drawn from the wrong stack of paper. But my message was 100% from the heart of a father."

Rahall said he will reimburse the government for the stationery.

Lawmakers are prohibited from using Congressional letterhead and other resources for personal purposes.

However, a Rahall spokeswoman indicates that the Congressman did not use his Congressional "frank" to mail the letter and simply affixed a traditional stamp on the envelope.

Members of Congress are allowed to send "franked" letters through the U.S. mail by signing their name in place of a stamp. Congress reimburses the Postal Service for each piece of mail sent by lawmakers. "Franked" mail is also supposed to be used for official business as well.

"This raises troubling questions about how else Rahall may have abused his office and broken the public trust," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Rahall is the second House committee chairman to have allegedly violated Congressional rules by using official stationery for personal purposes. Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., is awaiting an ethics trial in September for using Congressional letterhead to solicit donations for a school of public affairs named after him at City College of New York.

Rangel did not name the school himself.

The House Ethics Committee has not launched any inquiry of Rahall's potential transgression.