Blog: In The Matter of Rep. Charles Rangel

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Registered: 03-18-2000
Blog: In The Matter of Rep. Charles Rangel
5
Thu, 12-02-2010 - 10:49am

Rangel is a disgrace.

http://blogs.ajc.com/jamie-dupree-washington-insider/2010/12/02/in-the-matter-of-rep-charles-rangel/?cxntfid=blogs_jamie_dupree_washington_insider

t could be a historic day in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives, and not in a good way, as the House will consider ethics punishment against Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).

Rangel was found guilty of thirteen charges of violating House rules, stemming from financial dealings that left hundreds of thousands of dollars in income unreported to the Congress and the feds and more.

The New York Democrat has been working behind the scenes, trying to convince fellow Democrats to help reduce his possible penalty to a written reprimand, which his supporters believe better represents his ethics dealings.

"Censure is a very harsh remedy that I don't think is merited given the lack of corruption," said fellow Black Caucus member Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).

It has been 27 years since a member of the House was censured.

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Fri, 12-03-2010 - 9:47am
Rangel is delusional if he believes the vote was partisan. As Rangel Stands Silently, Censure Vote Rings Loudly

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/03/nyregion/03rangel.html?src=mv&ref=homepage

WASHINGTON — Representative Charles B. Rangel, his gaze steady and his hands clasped before him, stood silently in the well of the House of Representatives on Thursday as Speaker Nancy Pelosi somberly read a resolution censuring him for bringing discredit to the House.

Ms. Pelosi issued the punishment minutes after the House voted 333 to 79 for the censure, the most severe sanction it can administer short of expulsion.

The vote made Mr. Rangel, a Democrat, the 23rd member of the House to be censured, and the first in nearly three decades.

After receiving his punishment, Mr. Rangel, 80, asked for a minute to address his colleagues and told them: “I know in my heart I am not going to be judged by this Congress. I’ll be judged by my life in its entirety.”

Mr. Rangel and his allies had pleaded for mercy, arguing that his transgressions, which included failure to pay income taxes and misuse of his office to solicit fund-raising donations, deserved the more lenient punishment of a reprimand. But that effort failed, 267 to 146.

The censure marks a staggering fall for Mr. Rangel, who has represented Harlem for half of his life, and had risen to become one of the most prominent and well-liked members of Congress. Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, called upon Mr. Rangel to appear before her, and, in a subdued tone, read the one-paragraph resolution noting his 11 violations of Congressional ethics rules.

Still, talking to reporters after leaving the House floor, Mr. Rangel’s old pugnacity returned as he denounced the vote as partisan.

“I am confident that when the history of this has been written,” he said, “people will recognize that the vote for censure was a very, very, very political vote.”

Referring to misdeeds of others who had been censured, he said: “I did not curse out the speaker. I did not have sex with minors. I did not steal money.” When a reporter asked him what he felt as he stood in the well, he asked, “Are you a licensed psychiatrist?”

Only two Republicans, Representatives Peter T. King of New York and Don Young of Alaska, voted against the censure resolution. African-American members largely stood with Mr. Rangel, too, with just one member of the Congressional Black Caucus casting a vote for the censure.

“I have never heard anyone question Charlie Rangel’s integrity,” Mr. King said in his remarks on the House floor.

Mr. Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War and the civil rights movement, has been one of the most recognizable political figures in New York and Washington, known for his feisty advocacy of liberal policies. When Democrats seized control of the House in 2006, he earned the title of his career: chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

That prominence, however, was short-lived. In July 2008, news reports detailed his acceptance of several rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan real estate magnate at prices far below market. Mr. Rangel denied any wrongdoing but asked the ethics committee to investigate.

In the months that followed, new problems emerged, including his failure to pay taxes on rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic or to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on financial disclosure forms.

Mr. Rangel’s fund-raising for a City College school being built in his honor also became part of the ethics inquiry because he used Congressional stationery and postage to request donations and asked for contributions from companies and executives with business before Congress.

In one case, Mr. Rangel’s committee helped preserve a tax loophole worth hundreds of millions of dollars for an oil-drilling company that pledged $1 million.

Mr. Rangel denied using his office to benefit donors or to enrich himself, saying he was guilty only of bookkeeping errors. But under heavy pressure, he gave up his cherished chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

After dragging out the ethics investigation for two years with aggressive legal challenges, Mr. Rangel walked out of a public hearing on the matter last month, saying he no longer could afford a lawyer. The ethics committee brushed aside his objections and found him guilty of 11 of 13 charges against him.

While the vote on Thursday seemed a foregone conclusion, suspense built when Mr. Rangel’s allies forced a floor vote on a motion to reduce the punishment to a reprimand. They argued that his misconduct did not approach the seriousness of others who had been censured, and that such a sanction would be extreme. The last two members who were censured, for example, had each been found guilty of having sexual relations with a Congressional page.

Mr. Rangel received unexpected support from Representative John S. Tanner of Tennessee, a leader of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

“As a lawyer, I also respect precedent,” said Mr. Tanner, who urged his colleagues to vote for a reprimand. “I have searched this record and find no activity involving moral turpitude, or any activity that could be classified as one with criminal intent.”

Representative Robert C. Scott, a Virginia Democrat who took part in the ethics committee’s investigation, also urged members to use restraint in meting out punishment.

“He knows he messed up,” Mr. Scott said. “He knows he will be punished. He just asks that he is punished like everyone else.”

The remarks echoed those contained in an e-mail that Mr. Rangel had sent to some 25,000 constituents and admirers over the past week, in which he asked them to call their representatives and seek mercy for him.

“I brought it on my myself, but I still believe this body has to be guided by fairness,” Mr. Rangel said, repeatedly asserting that he had not tried to enrich himself by his actions.

But other members said Mr. Rangel’s violations were too serious to warrant only a reprimand.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the ethics committee, said that in the past, censure had been used for members who had used unparliamentary language and that Mr. Rangel had promised voters that Democrats would run the most ethical Congress in history.

“We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Ms. Lofgren said. “Mr. Rangel himself has acknowledged that.”

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who sits on the ethics committee, said members needed to take a firm stand in order to restore the public’s trust in Congress, which is near all-time lows.

“Credibility is exactly what is at stake at here,” Mr. McCaul said. “The credibility of the House of Representatives before the American people.”

Mr. Rangel’s long battle over the ethics charges has transfixed New York City’s political establishment and set off speculation about how long he will remain in office. Several Democrats are eyeing the seat, but no major figure dared to challenge Mr. Rangel this year, when he easily won re-election.

After the censure vote, reporters pressed the congressman about whether he would serve out the rest of his term, and run again. “At my age,” he replied, “I don’t buy green bananas.”

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-11-2010
Fri, 12-03-2010 - 10:09am

(No matter what happens, it will be a historic day in the House of Representatives, as lawmakers sit in judgment of one of their own, maybe their most distasteful job as a member of Congress.)

It will be interesting to see how Pelosi votes....wasn't it her claiming it was time to "drain the swamp"?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Fri, 12-03-2010 - 10:15am
The vote was 333 to 79. (See my second post.)

 


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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-11-2010
Fri, 12-03-2010 - 10:17am
oops....should have read ahead. I hate these new boards...very difficult to follow.
Thanks.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Fri, 12-03-2010 - 10:26am
" I hate these new boards...very difficult to follow."
I agree. Wish the posts were numbered.

 


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