Charlie Rangel Failed to Report All-Expenses-Paid Trip to China

The Harlem Democrat has been admonished before for travel-related troubles.

Charlie Rangel on visit to China
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
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Shane Goldmacher
June 26, 2014, 7:51 a.m.

Rep. Charles Ran­gel, who was pub­licly ad­mon­ished four years ago by the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee for ac­cept­ing im­prop­er travel, has failed to re­port an all-ex­penses-paid trip he took to China last year.

The 84-year-old New York Demo­crat joined a 10-law­maker del­eg­a­tion from the Con­gres­sion­al Black Caucus for a weeklong China trip last Au­gust. Sev­en of the oth­er law­makers on the trip lis­ted it on their an­nu­al fin­an­cial-dis­clos­ure forms, made pub­lic earli­er this month. The two oth­er at­tendees, Reps. Gregory Meeks and Sheila Jack­son Lee, have not yet filed their re­ports, after ask­ing for ex­ten­sions.

Only Ran­gel has failed to re­port the trip. [UP­DATE: Fol­low­ing pub­lic­a­tion of this story, Han­nah Kim, Ran­gel’s spokes­wo­man, said in an email that the “con­gress­man has taken im­me­di­ate ac­tion to file ne­ces­sary amend­ments.”]

The over­seas ex­cur­sion was fun­ded by the gov­ern­ment of China through the Mu­tu­al Edu­ca­tion­al and Cul­tur­al Ex­change Act, which al­lows for­eign na­tions to take mem­bers of Con­gress abroad on State De­part­ment-sanc­tioned “cul­tur­al ex­change” trips.

There are few de­tails of the trip, which un­like more com­mon non­profit-fun­ded travel are not re­quired to be re­por­ted pub­licly with­in weeks of oc­cur­ring. In fact, by leav­ing it off his an­nu­al fin­an­cial dis­clos­ure, Ran­gel is set to nev­er ac­know­ledge he went abroad on the all-ex­penses-paid trip.

Na­tion­al Journ­al first re­vealed the ex­ist­ence of the caucus’s China trip in a Janu­ary art­icle about the grow­ing role of the in­flu­ence in­dustry in plan­ning in­ter­na­tion­al trips abroad.

The oth­ers from the CBC who joined Ran­gel, Meeks, and Jack­son Lee in China were Reps. G.K. But­ter­field, An­dre Car­son, Emanuel Cleav­er, Mar­cia Fudge, Hank John­son, Don­ald Payne, and Fre­der­ica Wilson — all Demo­crats. In an email last Decem­ber about the trip, CBC spokes­wo­man Ay­ofemi Kirby said all 10 law­makers were ac­com­pan­ied by an aide, along with three Black Caucus staffers.

New pub­lic dis­clos­ures show that the jour­ney in­cluded stops in Beijing, Shang­hai, and Hong Kong. Kirby said in the email that the del­eg­a­tion met with the vice premi­er and the min­is­ter of eth­nic af­fairs, among oth­er Chinese of­fi­cials.

Ran­gel, who was elec­ted to his 23rd term in the House earli­er this week after a tough primary chal­lenge, has faced ques­tions about his in­ter­na­tion­al travels be­fore.

In 2010, the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee found that Ran­gel vi­ol­ated House rules by ac­cept­ing free trips to the Carib­bean in 2007 and 2008 that were un­der­writ­ten by cor­por­ate money ear­marked for con­gres­sion­al travel. An in­vest­ig­at­ive re­port of the com­mit­tee said Ran­gel’s staff knew of the cor­por­ate fund­ing and ordered Ran­gel to re­pay the costs of the trip. Oth­er law­makers from the Con­gres­sion­al Black Caucus had gone on the same trips, but only Ran­gel was found to have done so while his staff knew about the im­prop­er fund­ing.

In the wake of that re­port, Ran­gel stepped down as chair­man of the power­ful House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee.

The travel case, however, turned out to be the least of Ran­gel’s eth­ics prob­lems that year. In Decem­ber, the House voted to cen­sure him — the most severe pun­ish­ment shy of ex­pul­sion — for 11 oth­er vi­ol­a­tions of con­gres­sion­al eth­ics rules.

The vi­ol­a­tions in­cluded fail­ing to pay all his taxes and fil­ing mis­lead­ing fin­an­cial state­ments.

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