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WASHINGTON -- A House investigative panel on Thursday announced multiple ethics charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, the powerful New York Democrat who has been fending off accusations related to his business dealings and fund-raising, among other issues.
The case will go to trial before a separate ethics committee, and Rangel said Thursday he looks forward to the opportunity to explain himself to his constituents after two years of allegations.
Rangel was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee until he stepped down in March following criticism from the House ethics committee in a separate case.
The announcement Thursday did not specify which alleged violations would be considered during this trial. Sources familiar with the allegations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, told the Associated Press the charges against the 40-year Democrat were related to:
--Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
--His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city's rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one's primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.
--Rangel's failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker's rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.
The timing of the announcement ensures that a public airing of Rangel's ethical woes will stretch into the fall campaign, and Republicans are certain to make it an issue as they try to capture majority control of the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had once promised to "drain the swamp" of ethical misdeeds by lawmakers in arguing that Democrats should be in charge.
Responding to the charges, Rangel said in a statement, "I was notified today, two years after I requested an investigation, that the Ethics Committee will refer the allegations reviewed by an investigations subcommittee to a subcommittee that will review the facts. I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media."
Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said, "The action today would indicate that the independent, bipartisan ethics committee process is moving forward."
Rangel led the tax-writing Ways and Means panel until he stepped aside last March after the ethics committee criticized him in a separate case -- finding that he should have known corporate money was paying for his trips to two Caribbean conferences.
Officials said that in the current case, the committee and Rangel's attorney tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a settlement. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions. A settlement would have required Rangel to agree that he violated ethics rules.
Rangel had hoped to regain his chairmanship, but the allegations make that virtually impossible this year.
He announced a bid for a 21st term recently, days before his 80th birthday. One of his Sept. 14 primary opponents is Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the former congressman whom Rangel defeated in 1970.
While the case will generate unfavorable headlines for Rangel, it may have little effect in his congressional district, New York's famed Harlem, where the congressman has been a political leader for decades and is known by older constituents as a Korean War hero.
The Associated Press contributed to this report