Rep. Doc Hastings (Wash.), ranking Republican on House ethics committee, said today that a special counsel is needed to handle the investigation in Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-N.Y.) finances.
Hastings also said that he and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas), acting chairman of ethics, should personally oversee any Rangel probe.
In an extraordinary statement issued by Hastings, the Washington Republican said he has wanted to create an special four-member investigative subcommittee since July but has been blocked from doing do. It is highly unusual, to say the least, for a member of the ethics committee to issue such a public statement on a matter that may come before the panel. Green earlier today issued his own statement saying the ethics committee will take up Rangel on his request for a probe, and he noted that the committee will meet next Wednesday. Green took over as top Democrat on ethics following the death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) last month.
“It has been my repeatedly stated intention since July that the Committee should form an Investigative Subcommittee to look into matters relating to Representative Rangel. This has been delayed for far too long. Action should have been taken in July or since the House reconvened two weeks ago," Hastings said in his statement.
"In fact, given the highly public nature of these allegations, as well as Representative Rangel’s own recent public statement that, as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he 'should be held to a higher standard,' I have recommended that the Investigative Subcommittee be led by Chairman Green and myself as Ranking Member, with the other two positions being filled by senior Members of the Committee.
"It is also my belief that the Committee should retain a special counsel to staff the Investigative Subcommittee considering Representative Rangel’s own public admission that special expertise is needed to understand and uncover the facts of his financial records and public filings.
"I regret having to issue this statement and do not intend to comment further.”