Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ethics Panel Finds Rangel Guilty on 11 Violations of House Rules

You know, at one time, I bet charlie rangel did some good things for the people he represents. But like all of these guys who stick around for 20, 30 and even 40 years, they become entrenched even feeling that they are above the law at times. You kind of have to feel for the guy, 40 years of service ending in disgrace. But he brought it upon himself. No person, even a veteran politician should be able to blatantly break the rules and expect to be given special treatment.

rangel broke the rules, repeatedly, and now he will have to face the consequences...

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A House member who once wielded great influence was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of breaking ethics rules and now faces punishment. The veteran lawmaker immediately denounced the verdict as unfair.

An ethics panel of eight House peers deliberated over two days before delivering a jarring blow to the Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel's 40-year career. Rangel was charged with 13 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct.

The conviction also was another setback for Democrats who lost control of the House to the Repulicans in the Nov. 2 elections.

Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is not expected to resign. He is 80 years old and remains a dominant political figure in New York's famed Harlem neighborhood that he represents.

He was forced to step down last March as chairman of the committee that oversees tax and trade policy when the House ethics committee, in a separate case, admonished him for taking two Caribbean trips paid for by corporations.

At his one-day trial on Monday, Rangel was reduced to pleading for a postponement -- arguing that his lawyers abandoned him after he paid them some $2 million but could afford no more. The panel rejected his request, and Rangel walked out of the proceeding.

Rangel reacted bitterly to the conviction. He was not present when the veredict was announced.

"How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?" Rangel said in a written statement. "I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions."

He called the panel's findings "unprecedented" because there was no rebuttal evidence. He complained that the rejection of his appeal for more time violated "the basic constitutional right to counsel."

Rangel, echoing a statement he made in August in a speech to the House, added, "any failings in my conduct were the result of "good faith mistakes" and were caused by "sloppy and careless recordkeeping, but were not criminal or corrupt."

The full ethics committee will now conduct a hearing on the appropriate punishment for Rangel, the silver-haired, gravelly-voiced and sartorially flashy veteran.

Possible sanctions include a House vote deploring Rangel's conduct, a fine and denial of privileges.

The congressional panel, sitting as a jury, found that Rangel had used House stationery and staff to solicit money for a New York college center named after him. It also concluded he solicited donors for the center with interests before the Ways and Means Committee, leaving the impression the money could influence official actions.

He also was found guilty of failing to disclose at least $600,000 in assets and income in a series of inaccurate reports to Congress; using a rent-subsidized New York apartment for a campaign office, when it was designated for residential use; and failure to report to the IRS rental income from a housing unit in a Dominican Republic resort.