Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), censured on the House floor earlier this month for ethics violations, is soliciting donations to a legal defense fund, Politics Daily has learned.
The fund is asking for donations of up to $5,000 for the Charles B. Rangel Legal Expense Trust.
In a statement, Rangel told Politics Daily: "I have received authorization from the Committee on Standards and Official Conduct to begin raising funds for the Charles B. Rangel Legal Expense Trust, which I have sought to create so I can retain counsel for on-going activities related to the recently-concluded ethics investigations and other on-going matters."
Rangel said the House ethics panel approved H. Carl McCall, a former New York state comptroller, to serve as the trustee of the fund.
The money is being collected because Rangel may have more legal battles ahead, prompted, he said in his statement, by a group that has been investigating him.
"The repeated filings of allegations, no matter how unsubstantiated, by the National Legal Policy Committee, a politically-motivated right-wing group dedicated to eviscerating civil rights and labor union protections, have led me to this action. All contributions to the Trust will be reported as required on a quarterly basis with the Committee as well as the Legislative Resource Center for public disclosure.
"I continue to draw satisfaction from the recently concluded Ethics Committee investigations that established that, while I committed serious violation of the rules of the House, none of those violations included corruption, intent, self-dealing, self-enrichment or quid pro quos involving any official action," Rangel said.
The National Legal and Policy Center on Nov. 29 filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging Rangel improperly used $400,000 from his political action committee to pay legal bills stemming from the House ethics probe.
In an e-mail appeal sent out Monday, the potential battles ahead were alluded to. "Many supporters have encouraged this for a while as it is becoming clear that there are those who will continue to mine and instigate further allegations. This Trust will enable the Congressman to focus all of his attention on the work that must be done in the new Congress. We are trying to raise some seed money before December 31st to help get the Trust off the ground."
The fund is allowed to take corporate donations -- federal candidates running for office can't accept corporate contributions -- but is not taking any money from federally registered lobbyists.
Rangel, a 40-year House veteran who was re-elected on Nov. 2, was called to the well of the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to hear her read a series of ethics violations he was found to have committed, including failure to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic home and filing misleading financial disclosures. The House voted 333 to 79 for censure.
Rangel, in accepting the punishment, said there was "no evidence that there was an intention on my part to evade my responsibility, whether in taxes or whether in financial disclosures. And there's absolutely no excuse for my omission for my responsibility to obey those rules. I take full credit for the responsibility of that. I brought it on myself, but I still believe that this body has to be guided by fairness."