Rep. Charles Rangel’s office rejected a New York Post story saying the state “bailed him out” after the lawmaker failed to pay at least $87,000 in rent for his Harlem office last year.
Mr. Rangel’s spokeswoman Hannah Kim offered an alternate account of the events described in The Post.
She said the ongoing effects of the 2012 sequestration compelled Mr. Rangel to renegotiate the rent on his office at the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on West 125th Street.
Ms. Kim conceded that during the process of renegotiating the rent, which requires final approval from an office at the House of Representatives, Mr. Rangel did not pay for his space.
While The Post claimed that taxpayers footed the nearly $90,000 bill during that hiatus, Ms. Kim said her boss intends to pay both the back rent and all future fees.
Mr. Rangel’s office declined to state what the new rent would be prior to final confirmation from the House — expected within days — but estimated it would be between 25 and 40 percent less than the previous rate of $7,253 a month.
“We’re actually trying to save taxpayer money here,” Ms. Kim said in a phone interview Tuesday.
In light of previous financial scandals, Mr. Rangel’s rivals, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Rev. Michael Walrond, might seize on the Post article at the candidates’ first debate, scheduled for Thursday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Harlem’s historic Abysinnian Baptist Church.
But spokespersons for Mr. Espaillat and Rev. Walrond declined to comment for this article.
Schumer endorses Rangel
Notwithstanding the Post story, Mr. Rangel’s campaign appears to be picking up steam, with Sen. Chuck Schumer following on the heels of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in endorsing the 22-term congressman.
“I’ve had the honor of serving with Congressman Charles Rangel in Congress for over thirty years,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “As the Dean of the New York Congressional Delegation, he has been an effective, progressive leader on issues like the minimum wage, health care and immigration reform and he’s not done fighting.”