Democrats say they believe the veteran politician is taking his time in hopes of a complete vindication on accusations against him. They express concern that Republicans will use the situation as part of its "culture of corruption" storyline in ads, mailings and talking points leading up to the midterm elections, Politico reported Monday.
After investigating allegations against the 80-year-old Rangel for nearly two years, the House ethics committee concluded he probably violated ethics rules. The panel found in one case that Rangel improperly rented apartments in New York's Harlem district for below market value, possibly violating a ban on House members accepting gifts valued at more than $50.
As a result of the allegations, Rangel stepped down as the House Ways and Means Committee chairman in March.
A senior Democratic aide told Politico House leaders would insist Rangel resolve the accusations before the August recess. The aide said leaders fear the political fallout could be dire if the matter drags on, and are considering going public with their demand if Rangel does not act.
"Democrats don't want to give Republicans an opportunity this summer," the aide said. "Rangel is very well liked, but no one is willing to lose their seat or chairmanship over him."