House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has selected the accounting firm Watkins, Meegan, Drury & Co. to do forensic accounting on his tax returns and congressional disclosure forms.
Rangel, who oversees tax-writing legislation in the House, has been under fire in recent months after reports emerged that he failed to pay taxes on nearly $75,000 in rental income from a vacation property he owns in the Dominican Republic (see Rangel to Hire Forensic Accountant). Other sources of income have been called into question as well, including a Florida condominium that he bought and sold for which discrepancies were found on his congressional disclosure forms.
The House Ethics Committee is investigating these and other matters, including Rangel's use of congressional stationery to solicit funds for a City College building named in his honor, and his use of at least three rent-stabilized apartments. Rangel has agreed to pay over $10,000 in back taxes to the IRS, and the state and city of New York.
Rangel announced plans in September to hire a forensic accounting firm to settle the controversies. "This forensic accountant specialist will then issue a written report identifying any errors and omissions in my disclosure statements and tax returns and, [as] I expect is necessary, prepare amended statements and, in cooperation with my personal accountant, amended tax returns for re-filing," he said in a statement at the time. "Once this review is completed -- and this can be done as quickly as possible -- this report will be transmitted to me and [attorney Lanny] Davis and, at the same time, directly to the House Ethics Committee." A spokesman for Rangel's office said he would have no further comment until the committee has finished its work.
A Watkins, Meegan, Drury employee declined to comment, saying, "We do not give out any information about our clients. Everything we do is confidential."
The firm is based in Bethesda, Md., and also has offices in Tysons Corner, Va., and Annapolis, Md. Its Web site says that its forensic accounting practice conducts investigations for "director and officer liability and white collar crime cases, and formulating calculations for criminal and civil tax issues and domestic disputes." The firm has its own certified fraud examiners, investigators and expert witnesses on staff.
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