Despite denials and a lot of confusion yesterday, Rep. Charlie Rangel told reporters in Washington that he has now asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “to grant me a leave of absence” as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
Rangel said the absence would take effect “until such time as the ethics committee completes its work.”
Before leaving, ignoring most of reporters’ questions, Rangel said, “from the very, very beginning, I had offered this to Speaker Pelosi,” referring to his temporary leave.
Rangel’s ethical woes have made him a lightning rod for criticism. He has recently been admonished for taking two junkets to the Caribbean in 2007 and 2008; his use of four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, including one for a campaign office, has drawn criticism; as has his use of congressional stationery to send fund-raising letters for a CUNY school named after him.
Rangel has also had to adjust his financial disclosure forms and pay back taxes.