Charlie Rangel: Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Despite tax scandal, N.Y. Rep.'s Ways and Means chair position is secure.

ByABC News
September 18, 2008, 7:05 PM

Sept. 19, 2008— -- 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:

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.