'Language Barrier', Not Tax Evasion: Rangel

Powerful congressman sorry for screw-up
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Sep 11, 2008 10:15 AM CDT
House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., takes questions from reporters regarding alleged financial improprieties, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008, on Capitol Hill in Washington.    (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
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(Newser) – Rep. Charles Rangel blamed his failure to pay taxes on his rental income from a Caribbean villa to “cultural and language barriers,” reports the New York Times. “Every time I thought I was getting somewhere, they’d start speaking Spanish,” Rangel said of his attempts to sort out his paperwork. The congressman admitted responsibility for his errors and submitted materials for an ethics investigation.

Rangel, a lawyer, is chairman of the House Committee on Ways & Means, which writes tax law, and about half the households in his district speak primarily Spanish. He has also come under fire for maintaining four rent-stabilized Manhattan apartments, one of which serves as his campaign office.