Rangel Starts Legal Defense Fund

By Jennifer Epstein
|  Tuesday, Dec 28, 2010  |  Updated 5:30 PM EDT
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Rangel Starts Legal Defense Fund

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., pauses as he speaks to the media after he was censured by the House, on Capitol Hill in Washington Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010.

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Rep. Charlie Rangel has launched a legal defense fund to help pay off bills he built up over a two-year ethics investigation.

The New York Democrat, who was formally censured by the House earlier this month, is soliciting donations to pay lawyers who represented him during the congressional ethics investigation, and the fund could be used to fend off future legal challenges.

“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 in a statement.

In November, Rangel told the House ethics committee that he could no longer afford counsel in the panel’s proceedings after spending more than $2 million on legal fees. He was censured by the full House earlier this month.

Rangel is also facing a Federal Election Commission investigation into his alleged misuse of his political action committee to pay his legal bills. The National Legal and Policy Center charges that Rangel used nearly $400,000 raised by his National Leadership PAC to pay lawyers.

“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,” Rangel said, “have led me to this action.”

Supporters can give donations of up to $5,000 annually and Rangel’s team is encouraging gifts before the end of the calendar year.

All contributions have to be reported quarterly to the ethics committee and to the Legislative Resource Center.

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