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Rangel`s NY Carib News Junket Now Under Scrutiny?

Panama News CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Sept. 17, 2008: Congressman Charles Rangel is insisting he will not step down from his chairmanship at the House's tax-writing committee even as his 2007 trip to the NY Carib News conference came under fire. The New York Post on Tuesday slammed the Harlem congressman for taking the trip without requesting permission as required under new rules from The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. Under the rules, changed last year, any privately paid-for free trips for a congress member required permission in order to attend. But the Post claims that Rangel only listed the Carib News Foundation as the sponsor of his trip in his tax returns but failed to disclose that the trip was financed by corporate sponsors, AT&T, HSBC, Sandals and Pfizer. (more)

The next NY Carib News conference is set for the Netherlands Antilles in November and Faye Rodney, Carib News president, recently was quoted as stating that `18 members of the Congressional Black Caucus have already indicated they will attend.`

And while Rangel is being scrutinized for the trips, he is not alone in taking part in the junkets. Legistorm reports indicate that several other mainly black congress members also took part in trips sponsored by `New York Carib News,` a newspaper owned by Jamaicans, Karl and Faye Rodney.

Among those who were `sponsored` last year to Antigua were Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, $845; Rep. Bennie Thompson, $1,528.60; Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, $1,420 and Rep. Donna Christansen, $900 in 2007 and $1,550 in 2006 to Panama

Rep. Maxine Waters was sponsored to the tune of $1,960 in 2006 to Panama while Rep. Ed Towns went on a $980 trip, also to Panama, courtesy of the NY Carib News. Rep. Gregory Meeks was taken on a $1,295 trip to the USVI in 2005 and to Panama on a $1,550 trip in 2006. Rep. Rangel also benefited from a $1,960 trip to Panama in 2006 as did his staffers, Annie Elisa Minguez, George Dalley and Emile Milne, who were sponsored on the trip at a cost of $980, $980 and $2,234 respectively.

Rep. David Scott was also taken on a $1,960 trip to Panama in 2006 while Rep. Donald Payne was sponsored to the tune of $980, also to Panama in 2006. Thompson was also taken to Panama in 2006 at a cost of $1,550 while Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson was taken to Panama, but at a cost of $980. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick was hosted as well, at a cost of $1,960 in 2006, records indicate.

The trips date back to 2000 and total a whopping $91,522, with only Democrats seemingly hosted.

Rangel, who recently hosted Caribbean leaders in Brooklyn at a poorly organized and poorly attended conference, has come under fire in recent weeks for failing to report $75,000 in income from a rental property in the Dominican Republic and for using a rent-controlled apartment for a campaign office. He has also been criticized for using congressional stationery to urge potential donors to support the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

Despite increased media scrutiny and pressure from Republicans, Rangel`s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Tuesday, `Mr. Rangel has not considered, nor has it ever been on the table, that he would step aside from his current position as chairman of the House Ways and Means.`

He added that the congressman, who has championed trade agreements that reduce tariffs on African and Caribbean exports, is going to hire a forensic accountant to examine the last 20 years of his financial records. This will be forwarded directly to the House Ethics Committee, Davis added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists she is standing by Rangel and expressed her appreciation that he is allowing the House Ethics Committee to investigate the claims.

But House Republican leader John Boehner has called for Rangel to step aside until the House ethics committee completes its work.

Rangel is the first black chairman of the Ways and Means committee. He represents a district that includes Harlem, upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx.

He replaced Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in the House in 1970. Ironically, Powell lost the seat after being increasingly criticized for mismanagement of the budget of the powerful Education and Labor Committee; for taking trips abroad at public expense, including travel to his retreat on the Bahamian isle of Bimini, and missing numerous sittings of his committee.

Powell was elected in 1944 as a Democrat to the House of Representatives, representing the 22nd congressional district, which included Harlem. He was the first black Congressman from New York, and the first from any Northern state other than Illinois in the Post-Reconstruction Era.

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