Charlie Rangel: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is trying to set things right with his constituents and the IRS.

In an open letter to his constituents, Rangel, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he was being targeted as part of a "guerrilla war" waged by the GOP, which has come down hard on Rangel after revelations that he failed to pay more than $10,000 in back taxes. That's also amid allegations of other financial missteps.

Today Rangel paid back the debt.

He wrote six checks for roughly $10,800 to cover income taxes he owed in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The amount did not cover penalties or interest, but a spokesman for Rangel said if such fines are levied, the congressman will pay them.

Republican lawmakers have called repeatedly for Rangel to step down from his post as head of the committee, which writes American tax policy. Yesterday, for the second time, House Republicans held a vote to censure Rangel. And for a second time the vote failed, leaving Rangel in his leadership position while the House Ethics Committee conducts an investigation.

At issue:

Failure to pay taxes on rental income from a resort condo Rangel owns in the Caribbean.

At least three rent-controlled apartments Rangel owns in New York, one of which he used as a campaign office.

And allegations that he used congressional stationery to write fundraising letters for an educational center to be named after him.

The failure to pay back taxes is an especially embarrassing, considering Rangel's leadership position on the committee responsible for drafting the nation's tax policy.

In the past weeks, Rangel has tried to explain why he neglected to pay taxes on the $75,000 he received as income from renting out his Caribbean condo. He told reporters that his wife, Alma, handles all his personal finances, so he just wasn't aware of any possible negligence. Rangel also blamed a language barrier.

During a news conference earlier this month he said he had a hard time getting information about his finances from the resort managers in the Dominican Republic because he said he couldn't understand the language.

"Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they'd start speaking Spanish," Rangel said.

When a reporter asked him how he couldn't know that he was making money from his rental property, he said, "I never got any idea that I had any income. Some years it was no income. I received no communication for the income."

After the issues came to light, Rangel asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate. He has acknowledged that he may have made some mistakes but says he has nothing to hide and will take full responsibility for his actions.

GOP Calls for Rangel to Leave Committee

Some Republican lawmakers say the House Ethics review isn't enough.

House Minority leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, has been leading the charge to remove Rangel from the House and Ways Committee. He issued the following statement: "The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has a solemn responsibility, and it is improper for Rep. Rangel to remain in a position with such vast power and influence with this ethical cloud hanging over him. When Democrats took the majority, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi promised the most 'open and ethical' Congress in history. … The American people deserve far better than this."

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