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Ethics Committee Presents Rangel Evidence, Without Rangel

Monday, November 15, 2010

Updated 10:20am

The Ethics Committee has denied Rangel's request for a delay and is continuing with the presentation of evidence even without Rangel in the hearing room. "No conclusions as to the facts of this matter can be drawn by the fact that Mr. Rangel  has decided not to part in this hearing," said chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Ca). More than 500 pieces of evidence against Congressman Rangel are expected to be presented this morning.

Updated 9:55am

A defiant Rep. Rangel defended himself in front of a committee of his peers and announced his intention to walk out before they agreed to consider delaying the proceedings in a closed door session.

At issue is Rangel's request that the hearing be postponed until he could raise money to hire a lawyer. He said lawyers offered to
represent him for free, but they feared such work would be considered a gift, something banned under current House rules.

"How far does this go" asked Rangel, "because we don't have time?" 

Rep. Charlie Rangel faces charges he violated Congressional ethics rules. It sets off a public showdown between one of Washington's most enduring figures and his colleagues who have vowed to "drain the swamp" of corruption. 

The 20-term Democratic Congressman from Harlem is accused of not properly accounting for his financial assets, failing to pay taxes on rental income he owned in the Dominican Republic and using Congressional stationary to solicit money for a school to be named in his honor.Rangel has already admitted some wrongdoing but insists they were mistakes and not done intentionally.

Since the accusations against Rangel were made public in a series of news stories more than a year ago, Rangel, the dean of the New York Congressional delegation, "temporarily" stepped down as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. At the time, Rangel said the move was voluntarily, and that he hoped he would not become a national campaign issue in the mid-term elections.

Amid the controversy, Rangel faced his most serious campaign challenge, with four opponents trying to unseat him. None were well-known or well-funded, and Rangel easily won re-election with nearly half the votes in the primary. He cruised to victory over his Republican opponent in the general election.

But the accusations against Rangel have also had a hefty financial cost. Bills for Rangel's legal team, plus a forensic accountant, have drained his campaign account. He has reportedly let go of his legal team and it is unclear who will represent Rangel at the start of the ethics hearing Monday morning.

Speculation has been swirling that he would step down from the Congress rather than face formal proceedings by a Congressional panel. The eight-member panel looking into the matter is equally split between Democrats and Republicans. But following the mid-term elections, Republicans will take over control of the House come January, raising speculation that they could use the Rangel probe as a demonstration of their willingness to do what Democrats had promised: "drain the swamp" of corruption in the capital.

Aides to Rangel, a decorated Korean War veteran wounded on the battlefield, say he does not want to retire before settling the matter, fearing it would blemish an otherwise celebrated career.

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Comments [12]

Liz from NYC

I agree w/ Suzanne that he could have (should have?) taken a private route to resolve these claims... this smacks of an overdramatic stunt on the part of Rep. Rangel. Like the student who walks into the last day of class and claims that the dog ate his term paper, and expects all to be forgiven.

Nov. 15 2010 02:17 PM
marion cooper from Pikesille, MD.

I agree with Bill Crystal who says that Mr. Rangel should be left alone.

Nov. 15 2010 02:12 PM
r.a. segal from NYC

A witch hunt. They should have allowed him to accept pro bono counsel.
They are all guilty of similar offenses in one form or other.
Each party is posturing in the post election limelight.

What hypocrisy. Shame.

Nov. 15 2010 12:39 PM
Ed from Queens NY

Does he still have 4 rent controlled apartments?

Nov. 15 2010 12:35 PM

Either Rangel is crazy like a fox or he's losing it -- and needs to retire. I do agree that the level of this investigation seems way beyond the nature of his supposed transgressions. Although he could have resolved this in private and chose to take the public route. I hope they deal with it quickly.

Nov. 15 2010 12:18 PM
Jennifer from New Brunswick

how come Cheney's corruption with Halliburton weren't investigated by Congress like this? why is some senator's income tax errors more important? They're drilling for natural gas in shale using toxic chemicals that don't have to be reported to the EPA--the only processing so protected and the reason for it is Cheney had natural gas processing removed from the bill clarifying how chemicals should be reported when he was VP. the fact that his company Halliburton used this process was never investigated. Thats what Congress should be investigating. not some stupid tax mistake.

Nov. 15 2010 12:03 PM
micheal from brooklyn

He's a criminal who has worked the system for years. He simply hasn't been caught til now. Four rent-controlled apartments for a congressman? No taxes paid over a 20 year period on income earned from his DR property? I hope he is kicked out of Congress and into a jail cell.

Nov. 15 2010 12:03 PM
desdemona finch from Brooklyn

I'm a fan of Rangel. I really respect him but it sounds like he knows he's done something wrong or he wouldn't be so defensive. The closer you get to the target the more they freak.

By the way, Paul Singer rocks! Glad you have him on. Great journalist.

Nov. 15 2010 11:51 AM
Steve from NJ

Why would Rangel and the Democrats want to delay this? So Charlie can testify before a Republican controlled House? Appears to be a red herring.

Nov. 15 2010 10:36 AM
bruce gelman from seattle

If Mr.Wrangell sounded more contrite and stopped cooking up silly excuses for why he is being singled out he might have a real chance of saving his career.

Nov. 15 2010 10:29 AM
John Eisenberg from New York, NY

The only difference between a criminal and a politician is conviction or lack thereof.
Mr. Rangel should be sharing a cell with Mr. Madoff.
Not only has he betrayed the public's trust his lack of ethics and sense of entitlement is indicative of the caste system we have devolved to.
Anyone else would be charged criminally and subsequnelt sent to prison.
His antics this morning is a verification that he believes the rules don't apply to him.

Nov. 15 2010 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

He needs money! The man is a millionaire which he became on his probably more or less legal nonetheless sleazy dealings of the 50 years he's been in congress. He's nothing but an outdated dapper dan in his slick suits and manicured look.
WE NEED TERM LIMITS.

Nov. 15 2010 10:18 AM

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