NOVEMBER 19, 2010
In a low and pleading voice, Rep. Charles Rangel asked for mercy from the House ethics committee Thursday before panel members said the 80-year-old lawmaker deserved censure, a punishment just short of expulsion from Congress.
Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.) said the panel voted 9-1 in favor of censuring Mr. Rangel and requiring him to pay any unpaid taxes on unreported rental income from a vacation home he owns in the Dominican Republic.
Those recommendations now go to the full House for a vote, which is expected after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The panel on Tuesday found Mr. Rangel had violated nearly a dozen congressional rules, including failure to pay some taxes and misusing both his staff and the imprimatur of his office.
Blake Chisam, the ethics-committee lawyer who is serving as prosecutor for Mr. Rangel’s disciplinary proceedings, told the panel Thursday that the senior New York Democrat’s conduct “demonstrated a lack of attention and carelessness over a broad range of issues over a lengthy period of time.”
Mr. Chisam said that censure, the most severe punishment short of expulsion from the House, was appropriate. The panel had weighed whether to recommend censure or a reprimand, a less severe penalty.
Both censure and reprimand are symbolic acts of publicly shaming the offending lawmaker on the House floor. Neither carries legal repercussions.
Dates of a Scandal
The 11 counts against Mr. Rangel were a record for the panel, which in its 43-year history has only recommended censure three times and reprimand nine times, said the committee lawyer Mr. Chisam. Although rare, the panel is preparing for another trial during the lame-duck session. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) has been accused of helping a bank in which her husband had an investment.
Some Democrats on the panel suggested Mr. Rangel’s offenses, while serious, deserved only a reprimand.
“Censure is extreme. It should be reserved for intentional conduct where the member has derived a personal financial benefit. That is not this case,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.).
Mr. Rangel nearly lost his composure as the hearing came to an end. Asked if there was anything further he wanted to say before the panel left to deliberate his fate, tears welled in his eyes and he wiped his hand across his face, taking a long, quiet pause before answering.
“I thank you for this awkward opportunity to express myself, and I apologize for any embarrassment I’ve caused you individually or collectively,” he said.
Mr. Rangel, who has represented Harlem in Congress for 40 years, faced the most withering criticism from the panel’s senior Republican, Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama.
“It is my unwavering view that the actions, decisions and behavior of our colleague from New York can no longer reflect either honor or integrity,” Mr. Bonner said. “Mr. Rangel should only look into the mirror if he wants to know who to blame.”
Even as Mr. Rangel asked for understanding, he decried what he called the untrue assertions that he was corrupt or a criminal. “I was not trying to criminally hide anything from the IRS or from the Congress,” Mr. Rangel said, adding that his offenses involved sloppy record keeping.
Mr. Rangel has said that he paid about $10,000 for back taxes owed for the five most recent years. While tax law only looks back five years, the panel decided he should pay taxes for the full 17 years he was delinquent.
Charlie Rangel was born on June 11th, 1930 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_B._Rangel
6 + 11 +2+0+1+0 = 20 = his personal year (from June 11th, 2010 to June 10th, 2011) = Conscience. Resolutions. Turning point. Judgement. Forgiveness. Atonement. Repentance. Penance. Contrition. Reparations. Making amends. Restitution. Pardon. Clemency. Reprieve. Confirm. Approve. Recommend. Appeals. Resolutions. Final decision. Final answer. Court. Accuse. Accusations. Charges. Plea. Bail. Trial. Deliberations. Verdict. Sentencing. Judges. Adjudicate. Preside. Referee. Pound. Gavel. Confession. Admission. Contrite. Guilt. Punishment. Censure. Castigate. Chastise. Reprimand. Admonish. Sanctions. Expulsion.