Rangel Claimed in Ethics Testimony that He Never Heard of One of the World’s Largest Financial Institutions that Also Sponsored Caribbean Trip

February 26, 2010

Rep. Charlie Rangel swears he doesn’t know his own donors.

HSBC Bank’s political action committee has given the New York Democrat at least $28,000 in the last decade, according to federal campaign finance records.

But Rangel told House ethics investigators in November that he had never heard of the bank, which has almost 400 branches in his home state of New York and is one of the largest financial institutions in the world.

Rangel “stated that he did not know what HSBC Bank was,” according to an ethics committee report that admonishes Rangel for violating House gift rules by taking a trip to the Caribbean that was underwritten by corporate sponsors. HSBC is mentioned in testimony because it threatened to withdraw its financial backing for a 2008 conference in the Caribbean that Rangel and several other lawmakers attended.

The bank ended up kicking in $10,000 more than it had the year before – but company officials told government investigators that the $25,000 was for “advertising in the conference materials.”

Rangel’s relationship with HSBC’s PAC dates back at least as far as 2000, when a $1,000 contribution was made to his shoo-in re-election campaign.

Its most recent donation to Rangel, a check for $2,500, was delivered on Aug. 28, 2009, about two months before his testimony.

Read more: (James Hohmann and Jonathan Allen, “Rangel Said He’d Never Heard of Big Bank Donor,” Politico, 2/26/10)