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Rangel Says He¿s ¿embarrassed¿ For Boehner

Ways and Means Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) made the case Wednesday for keeping his post atop the tax-writing panel following Republican calls that he relinquish the gavel until the House ethics committee rules on three separate inquiries.

For the second time this year, Rangel was forced to convene a press conference defending himself from a series of press reports - this time regarding his failure to pay full income taxes on a vacation property he bought 20 years ago in the Dominican Republic.

"I personally feel that I have done nothing morally wrong," Rangel told a crowded room of reporters Wednesday morning. "I am concerned for members of Congress, friends that have to explain I have done nothing wrong."

The Ways and Means chairman also delivered a message to one of the Republican leaders who called for him to step aside.

"I have felt embarrassed for my friend John Boehner for believing he has to do this politically," Rangel said, suggesting the Republican leader called for his temporary ouster, in part, because he faces political pressure from other members of his caucus.

The Ways and Means chairman spent the bulk of his morning news conference defending his financing of a vacation condominium in the Dominican Republic, arguing he failed to pay full taxes on the rental income because it was pooled from all the other units in his development in Punta Cana and deducted from his mortgage each year without any explicit notification.

In a letter Rangel sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the chairman said, on average, he received less than $5,000 a year in mortgage deductions from his share of the total rental income at the complex where he owned the condo.

A lawyer for Rangel estimates the chairman owes less than $11,000 in back taxes dating back to 2000. In his letter to Pelosi, the chairman promised to amend his local, state and federal tax filings for 2004, 2005 and 2006. An accountant is still completing his filing for 2007, said Lanny Davis, a lawyer in the Washington, DC, office of Orrick who has worked with Rangel to gather documents in the wake of these press reports.