Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in a statement just released by her office, said a House ethics committee investigation into Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) will be completed by early January 2009, which is officially the end of the current 110th Congress.
“In September, I called on the House Ethics Committee to look into issues raised by news reports on Chairman Rangel. This followed up on the Chairman’s own request for an investigation by the Committee," Pelosi said in her statement.
“I have been assured the report will be completed by the end of this session of Congress, which concludes on January 3, 2009. I look forward to reviewing the report at that time."
Until this point, Pelosi has taken a very cautious approach on the Rangel probe, but today's statement shows Pelosi is aware of Rangel's increasing political liability, both for himself and House Democrats.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Rangel, who was using his office to help raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center at City College of New York, met with Eugene M. Isenberg, CEO of Nabors Industries, an oil-drilling company, about donating to the center on the same day in Feb. 2007 that the Ways and Means Committee was meeting on a tax loophole that saved Nabors Industries tens of millions of dollars annually. Rangel opposed removing the loophole, and Isenberg eventually pledged to give $1 million to the Rangel Center.
The Times followed up with an editorial today calling on Rangel to step aside as Ways and Means chairman, at least temporarily, while under investigation by the House ethics committee.