The House of Representatives is investigating five Democratic members for accepting “improper” travel arrangements, and our own Charlie Rangel made the cut. The Carib News Foundation sponsors an annual Multinational Business Conference on Caribbean affairs, and is said to have flown the lawmakers in for it and provided hotel and other accommodations over the years. The congressmembers say they cleared this with the House Committee on Standards of Conduct ahead of time, but the Committee is said to be concerned that someone besides the Foundation was putting up the money, and has set up a subcommittee to investigate. The conservative National Legal and Policy Center charges that Citigroup is one of Carib’s funders, which may be a conflict of interest as the bank is a TARP recipient.
All the investigatees, including Carolyn Kirkpatrick (Michigan), Donald Payne (New Jersey), Bennie Thompson (Mississippi), and Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen (Virgin Islands), are members of the Congressional Black Caucus; Rangel chairs the Ways and Means Committee and Thompson chairs the Homeland Security Committee. CBS says the Carib Foundation’s 2007 IRS form “is filled out by hand and is almost blank aside from listing its charitable “activities” as adding up to $112,573. Revenue is listed as $33,252.” The Conference’s last outing in November was at the Sonesta Maho Bay Resort & Casino in St. Maarten.