“In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work.”
~ Self-serving congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on the deep ethical doodoo he is in.
By CARL HULSE and DAVID M. HERSZENHORN
WASHINGTON — Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York announced on Wednesday that he would temporarily step down from his powerful post as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in an attempt to avert a politically bruising fight over permanently stripping the gavel from his hands.
But Republicans on Wednesday afternoon said they had received a ruling from the presiding officer of the House that Mr. Rangel’s decision had indeed permanently removed him from the helm of the committee, which exerts enormous legislative influence in the House as it controls legislation involving taxes and revenues.
The events set in motion intense jockeying for advantage just as the House and Senate Democrats try to accelerate action on health care legislation.
“In order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, I have this morning sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking her to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work” on a number of accusations against him, the congressman said in a hurriedly scheduled meeting with reporters.
The ethics committee admonished Mr. Rangel last week for violating Congressional gift rules by accepting corporate-sponsored trips to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008.[More]