a house ethics subcommittee found representative charles rangel (d-ny) guilty on 11 counts of violating house rules "by clear & convincing evidence," rep. zoe lofgren (d-calif), the chair of the house ethics subcommittee announced tuesday.
rangel was found guilty of breaking house rules related to reporting rental income from his villa in the dominican republic, of using a rent-controlled apartment in harlem for campaign activities & rules against using congressional stationery to raise funds for a center at new york's city university to be built in his name. after receiving news of the verdict, rangel blasted the findings, "unfair & unfortunate."
the popular new yorker was clearly incredulous, asking, "how can anyone have confidence in the decision of the ethics subcommittee when i was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel & was not even in the room?" rangel continued, "i can only hope the full committee will treat me more fairly & take into account my entire 40 years of service to the congress before making any decisions on sanctions."
but lofgren affirmed her subcommittee's verdict & the process they used to warrant their arduous decision. said the chairwoman, "this has been a difficult assignment, time-consuming & we have approached our duties diligently & that includes every member of this subcommittee...we have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts & the law & i believe that we have accomplished that mission."
representative michael mccaul (r-tex), the top republican on the subcommittee, endorsed their findings, but said the rangel matter has broader implications for the entire house. "i'm hopeful as we move forward with this matter into the next phase, that at the end of the day we will be able to begin an era of transparency & accountability, a new era of ethics that will restore the credibility of this house," he said.
rangel faced charges stemming from a 21-month investigation. the rare & historic trial began monday, more than two years after the congressman recommended the ethics subcommittee fully monitor him following various non-stop media reports of irregularities in his personal financial disclosure reports to the house & his untidy tax filings. rangel refused to file income taxes from 1998 to 2008.
although rangel insisted he never knowingly violated house rules, he stepped down from his chairmanship of the powerful house ways & means committee in march of this year following a ruling from the subcommittee on gift rules violations. after moving on, he defiantly kept a high profile on capitol hill & in his harlem district, steadfastly maintaining his innocence at every opportunity. he was re-elected to a 21st term on november 2.
in an extraordinary speech on the house floor in august, rangel held forth for over 30 minutes to defend himself - before going home to new york to campaign for re-election. he said, then, there was "not one scintilla of evidence" to prove him guilty of the violations & demanded the ethics subcommittee publicly try him so he could answer the allegations.
yet when the eight-member house panel began the hearing, rangel calmly walked out of the proceedings, deeming them unfair & a violation of due process as he sat perturbed with no legal representation. he explained he'd spent nearly $2 million in legal fees in the run-up to the trial & asked the subcommittee to delay his hearing until he could find & raise more money to pay for more lawyers.
the subcommittee said no.
rangel exclaimed, "the committee has deprived me of the fundamental right to counsel & has chosen to proceed as if it is fair & impartial & operating according to rules, when in reality they are depriving me of my rights." despite his absence, the subcommittee's staff attorneys continued with their case, making an early motion to end the hearing with no further evidence or witnesses against rangel. they granted their judgment & then went into closed executive session to debate each count against him.
now that rangel has been found guilty, the full committee will meet to make a recommendation to the full house about punishment. ultimately, their decision on his political future could potentially range from censure to expulsion to reprimand.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.