Charles Rangel Hit With 13 Charges Of Ethics Violations
Congressman Charles Rangel has been hit with a thirteen count list of ethics violations by the House Ethics Committee:
WASHINGTON — The House ethics committee laid out 13 charges of House rules violations against Representative Charles B. Rangel on Thursday, and began the process for a rare public trial on the charges.
The move came after Mr. Rangel, a veteran congressman, failed to reach a settlement to avoid the rare and potentially embarrassing proceeding before the committee gathered at 1 p.m.
Mr. Rangel’s lawyers continued to hope they could still settle the case.
The charges against Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, include multiple breaches of the House ban on accepting gifts of more than $50 and of the requirement that members act at all times in a way that reflects creditably on the House.
Committee members struck a somber but determined tone in their brief public meeting, expressing affection for Mr. Rangel while at the same time saying they needed to uphold the integrity of Congress, especially given its dismal standing with the public.
“Credibility is exactly what is at stake here — the very credibility of the House of Representatives itself before the American people,” said an ethics committee member, Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican of Texas.
The charges involve four areas: Mr. Rangel’s solicitation of contributions to a school to be named in his honor at City College of New York; his errors and omissions on his House financial disclosure forms; his acceptance of rent-stabilized apartments in Harlem, including one for his campaign office; and his failure to report and pay taxes on rental income on a beach villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Mr. Rangel did not appear at the meeting on Thursday, but has submitted a written response to the charges.
The fact that the case has gotten this far is a remarkable event for the secretive ethics committee. The last time the House held a public trial of a member was in 2002, after Representative James Traficant, Democrat of Ohio, had been convicted criminally of accepting bribes. Mr. Traficant was expelled from Congress and served a prison term
There’s been speculation during the run up to today’s hearing that Rangel and the Committee would agree to some kind of deal that would have allowed him to avoid having these charges made public. Obviously, that didn’t work. However, it’s still possible that we’ll see this resolved before a public trial has to be held. Quite honestly, it’s in Rangel’s interest, and it’s in the interest of the Democratic leadership who would like to get this behind them as soon as possible.
The penalties facing Rangel range from a fine all the way to expulsion, although it seems like that would be unlikely absent the filing of separate criminal charges. If Rangel had any honor, though, he’d step aside and fade off into the sunset. It would seem he’s got quite a retirement nest egg.