Already facing investigation on thirteen ethics charges, disgraced former House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-New York) is now being accused of improperly using political action committee funds to pay for his legal defense.
According to The New York Post, Rangel accessed nearly $400,000 from his National Leadership PAC to pay his attorneys over the last two years.
“It’s a breach of congressional ethics,” one campaign-finance lawyer told the paper.
In addition to these new charges, Rangel is accused of failing to report assets, failing to pay taxes, using public resources to campaign for reelection and using taxpayer-funded mail to solicit campaign donations. There are also multiple allegations that Rangel traded taxpayer-funded favors to political donors from his powerful Ways and Means perch.
Despite these charges, Harlem Democrats overwhelmingly reelected Rangel back in September.
One of President Barack Obama’s staunchest ideological allies, Rangel led the fight on behalf of “Obamacare” – putting his name on one of the plan’s most anti-competitive tax increases. Along with U.S. Rep. John Spratt – who was defeated in his reelection bid earlier this month – Rangel is also one of the Democratic leaders most directly responsible for the massive government overspending of the last four years.
Rangel’s ethics trial begins Monday – although House Democrats have already recommended that he receive nothing more than a “reprimand” if he is found guilty.
UPDATE: After appearing briefly at his ethics hearing on Monday, Rangel walked out of the proceedings claiming that he did not have the money to afford the legal fees associated with his defense.