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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Charlie Rangel Guilty Of 11 Ethics Violations! Should He Resign?

Rangel Convicted Of 11 Ethics Violations

A House ethics panel has convicted Representative Charles B. Rangel of 12 of the 13 ethics violations he faced, ranging from accepting rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan developer to failing to pay taxes on rental income from his Dominican villa to raising charitable donations from companies and corporate executives who had business before the committee he led.

The convictions cast a cloud over the half-century political career of Mr. Rangel, an 80-year-old Democrat who was re-elected this month to a 21st term representing Harlem and who was the longtime head of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee of the House ethics committee, announced the subcommittee’s verdicts Tuesday morning just before noon. The matter now goes to the full House committee for action.

Ethics experts say the committee is likely to issue Mr. Rangel only a letter of reprimand or a formal censure. While the committee has the power to expel, that has happened only rarely and is considered highly unlikely.

Rangel Walks Out Of Ethics Hearing

Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, walked out of his House ethics subcommittee hearing Monday morning, complaining that he has not had sufficient time to hire a new legal team to respond to corruption allegations.

The subcommittee members continued meeting behind closed doors.

"Fifty years of public service is on the line. And I truly believe that I am not being treated fairly," he declared. "I deserve a lawyer."

Rangel told the subcommittee he has already spent $2 million defending himself from the charges, and had been advised the hearing - similar to a trial - could cost him another $1 million.

He complained that he was not being given enough time to raise funds to hire new lawyers because the committee was rushing to complete its work before the conclusion of the current lame duck Congress.

Rangel's original defense team left him in September.

"What theory of fairness would dictate that I be denied due process ... because it is going to be the end of this session?" he asked.

Ethics committee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, replied that it was Rangel's responsibility to assemble his legal team.

"Retention of counsel is up to the respondent," she said.

Rangel, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since the 1970s, stepped down as Ways and Means Committee chairman after a slew of ethics allegations. Rangel faces 13 allegations, include failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

House Republicans and some House Democrats have called for Rangel to resign because of the alleged ethics violations.

In August, Rangel said nothing "will stop me from clearing my name from these vile and vicious charges."

Rangel also offered explanations for the ethics charges against him, characterizing them as mistakes and acknowledging violations of House rules but denying they amounted to corruption.

"It's not corrupt," he said when responding to assertions that he used House letterhead to approach possible contributors to a university policy center in his name. "It may be stupid. It may be negligent, but it's not corrupt."

Regarding an accusation that he used a rent-controlled apartment as a campaign office, Rangel has said he did nothing wrong but was "insensitive to the appearance of being treated differently."

"I plead guilty of not being sensitive," he said.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California is also scheduled to have an adjudication hearing with the House ethics committee this month, on November 29. Waters has denied the allegations against her, which include steering federal bailout money to Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank - in which her husband had a financial stake.

Rangel Knocks Obama For "Dignity" Remark

New York Rep. Charles Rangel has shot back at President Barack Obama's recent comment that he "end his career with dignity."

Speaking at a candidate's forum Monday night in New York City, Rangel said the president hasn't "been around long enough to determine what my dignity is."

The 80-year-old congressman said it was more likely he would protect Obama's dignity over the next two years.

A House ethics panel has accused the 20-term Democrat from Harlem of ethics violation. Rangel has vowed to fight the charges and is refusing to resign. He says he is focusing on his re-election.

Obama said three weeks ago that he was sure Rangel wanted to "be able to end his career with dignity" and said he hoped it would happen.

Charlie Rangel's Spectacular Rise & Fall

Congressman Charlie Rangel had a bad week.

Calls for the veteran Harlem politician's resignation are increasing after the House Ethics Committee's announcement Thursday that he will be the subject of its first corruption trial in nearly a decade. The last time the committee took such a step, in 2002, it led to a congressman's expulsion.

Rangel says he welcomes the trial. He has said that "sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations."

But for the 80-year-old Rangel, the prospect of a trial by his peers threatens to overshadow an extraordinary career that led him from the poverty of the pre-war Bronx to the battlefields of Korea and ultimately the pinnacle of political power.

It's also drawing more attention to what was already a marquee political fight: the September 14 Democratic primary between Rangel and the son of the late scandal-plagued congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., who was ousted by Rangel 40 years ago.

The notion that Rangel's career could end in defeat or expulsion was once unthinkable.

The 20-term congressman had to claw his way to the top from the abyss of a rocky childhood. "My father was absolutely no good," he wrote in his autobiography. "In my earliest memory of him ... (he) was hitting my mother on the steps of some apartment-type building. I went and got a broom to hit my father. He started laughing at me."

Rangel's father eventually abandoned his family, and young Charlie moved in with an aunt and uncle.

In 1947, Rangel dropped out of high school -- a step that led to his enlistment in an all-black battalion in the Army's Second Infantry Division. Three years later, he found himself in the middle of the Korean War.

In November 1950, Rangel was wounded while helping to rescue 40 men behind Chinese lines in frigid temperatures near a place called Kunu-ri. For his efforts, Rangel received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for valor. The battle "was a waking nightmare becoming a reality," he later wrote. "I haven't had a bad day since."

When Rangel returned from the war, he was able to use the G.I. Bill to earn a college degree from New York University and a law degree from St. John's. After a stint as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, he was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1966.

He became active in the civil rights movement, participating in the mid-1960s marches in Selma and Montgomery, Alabama.

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Sources:CNN, MSNBC, NBC New York, The Grio, Google Maps

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