After a lengthy investigation, a House ethics panel ruled that Rep. Charlie Rangel violated congressional rules by traveling to the Caribbean on corporate junkets in 2007 and 2008. The Harlem Democrat said he had been "admonished" by the committee, which has not yet announced its findings regarding allegations of improper fundraising, tax evasion on property in the Dominican Republic, and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan despite House rules barring gifts worth more than $50.

Rangel was one of five members of the Congressional Black Caucus who attended business seminars in the Caribbean that were organized by a New York-based Caribbean newspaper, but funded by corporations including Pfizer, Verizon, and AT&T, the Times reports. Though the panel had no proof the 79-year-old knew of the sponsorships, the committee held him at fault because two of his staffers were aware of the corporate ties. "Representative Rangel was responsible for the knowledge and actions of his staff and the performance of their official duties," the committee ruled.

According to WCBS, Rangel claimed to be "disgusted' by the findings, and said his employees are to blame, not him:

I don't want to be critical of the committee but common sense dictates that members of Congress should not be held responsible for what could be the wrongdoing or mistakes or errors of staff unless there's reason to believe that member knew or should have known, and there is nothing in the record to indicate the latter.

The Post reports that the "finding is certain to jeopardize Rangel's chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee." The other members of Congress who took the trips were not punished because they weren't aware of the sponsorship, but they were ordered to pay back the cost of the vacations—about $11,800 altogether, according to the Times. Government watchdog groups said all of the implicated representatives should be held equally accountable.