Friday, November 28, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008 7:48 PM

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the far-reaching ethics investigation into Rep. Charles Rangel will conclude by early next year.

Pelosi issued a statement late Wednesday saying she has been assured the report by the House ethics committee will be completed before this session of Congress ends on Jan. 3.

"I look forward to reviewing the report at that time," said Pelosi, who has resisted calls from Republicans to remove Rangel from his powerful position atop the tax-writing Ways & Means Committee.

Her announcement puts a ticking clock on an investigation that could have dragged on for many more months, considering how many issues surrounding the personal finances and ethics of the long-serving lawmaker have now been brought before the committee.

Rangel is under scrutiny for not paying taxes on income from a Dominican Republic beach house he owns. The ethics panel is also looking at his living arrangements in New York City for three rent-stabilized apartments, as well as his effort to drum up donors for a college center named in his honor.

Fundraising for the Rangel Center was the subject of new reports this week that a businessman pledged $1 million to the effort while seeking Rangel's help in blocking a change in tax laws that would have cost his company millions more.

The lawmaker, who has been in Congress for nearly 40 years, denied any improprieties in seeking to protect the company's offshore tax shelter, saying: "At no time — ever — did I entertain, promote, or secure a tax break or any special favor for anyone as an inducement or reward for a contribution" to the Rangel Center.

He has also denied anything untoward in his use of the New York apartments.

As for his personal tax issues, Rangel has paid more than $10,000 owed in back taxes, but insisted he never intentionally dodged any taxes.

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