Last October, House Republicans in Washington DC sought to strip Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) of his chairmanship pending the outcome of ethics investigations into his activities. Only two Democrats joined that attempt: Travis Childers and Gene Taylor, both from Mississippi.
Last week, following a public rebuke by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (commonly referred to as the “Ethics Committee”), Rangel stepped down from his chairmanship, heading off another Republican attempt to dethrone him – one Democratic leadership feared would succeed.
In 2007 and 2008 Rangel took a corporate sponsored trip to the Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference on the island of St. Maarten. Those corporations employ federal lobbyists and the Ethics Committee determined the tropic vacation violated House gift rules. Rangel maintains he didn’t know it was a corporate sponsored trip and received preapproval, but the Ethics Committee, citing memos from Rangel’s staff discussing the nature of the trip, determined he was still responsible.