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Rangel ethics hearing next week

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports: A public hearing will be held next Thursday (July 29) to hear evidence on the Rep. Charlie Rangel matter and that is likely when we will learn what specific findings have been reached.

Today the Committee has "Transmitted a Statement of Alleged Violation" to the Chair and Ranking member. This means the Committee believes there is evidence of wrongdoing. (View the letter here.)

"That's what I have been asking for at long last," Rangel said when asked about the hearing, per NBC's Shawna Thomas. "I look forward to airing this thing."

But the finding of the Committee means Democrats also voted against Rangel. Aides say "this is big" and could if proven could lead to serious consequences.

The 80-year-old New York Democrat has been under scrutiny by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct known as the ethics committee.

He said he will speak at the public hearing whether the rules allow.

For two years, Rangel's personal finances, fundraising and more have been under scrutiny. Rangel requested the inquiry himself and the highly secretive committee made public that it was reviewing Rangel's actions.

The issues: Rangel failed to pay taxes on rental income from a vacation villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. He later paid about $10,000 in overdue villa related taxes after the omission was discovered. Rangel faced allegations that he received a special deal not available to the public on rent for three New York City rent-controlled apartments. His use of his official Congressional stationery to solicit funds for a City College of New York center bearing his name is also under review.

In his 20th term, Rangel has filed to run again in New York's Sept. 14th primary. Rangel has been a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and had served as chairman of the powerful tax writing, Ways and Means Committee, until he stepped aside in March after being admonished for gift rule violations. Rangel and other Members had accepted a Caribbean trip that was paid for by corporations without proper disclosure.

Republicans were quick to jump on the news and widen the scope.

"This is troubling news not only for Congressman Rangel, but for his most ardent defender -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is charged with trying to elect Republicans. "For over two years, the Charlie Rangel saga dragged on while Speaker Pelosi not only sat idly by, but encouraged her members to vote against an investigation into the deeply troubling matters at hand. It appears that Charlie Rangel will finally be judged by a jury of his peers, but unfortunately for the Speaker, the verdict is already out on what she promised would be the 'most ethical congress in history.'"

In office since 1971, Rangel is No. 2 in House seniority.