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November 25, 2008 3:12 PM

Amid Ethics Questions, Rangel Hires Zuckerman Partner

Posted by Zach Lowe

The spotlight's harsh glare continues to follow U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat recently elected to his 20th term in the House of Representatives.

Rangel has already paid Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe some $120,000 to review his tax records after evidence surfaced that the congressman had failed to pay taxes on rental income from a Dominican villa and profits from home sales in Washington, D.C.

Today, The New York Times reports in a lengthy story about the way Rangel angered some Democratic allies last year by helping to preserve a tax loophole that benefited, among others, an oil-drilling company whose chief executive later pledged $1 million toward the construction of a new City College of New York public service school that is to be named for Rangel.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, follows up on an earlier New York Post story about how Rangel may have improperly saved about $1,728 over six years ($288 per year) via a tax break intended for people who make Washington, D.C. their primary residence (In order to qualify for his rent-stabilized Harlem apartments, Rangel's makes his in Manhattan).

Rangel has already requested House ethics investigation of himself in connection with his activities in support of the City College project, but as attention to the issues intensified earlier this month, he hired Leslie Kiernan, a Zuckerman Spaeder partner, to represent him in the investigation.

According to her bio, Kiernan, who did not return calls seeking comment, is a member of Zuckerman's executive committee. She also has a lot of experience advising companies and individuals--including one unnamed former congressman--under investigation for alleged misconduct. In 2002, for instance, Kiernan was part of a team of lawyers representing three lobbying firms working for Saudi Arabia during a congressional investigation. The lobbyists, including Patton Boggs, refused a congressional subpoena ordering them to turn over records sought by a House panel probing a series of alleged child abductions involving Saudi parents.

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