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Rangel is First in Congress to Be Censured in Three Decades

December 3, 2010

Well, Charlie’s day finally came:

WASHINGTON — Representative Charles B. Rangel, his gaze steady and his hands clasped before him, stood silently in the well of the House of Representatives on Thursday as Speaker Nancy Pelosi somberly read a resolution censuring him for bringing discredit to the House.

Ms. Pelosi issued the punishment minutes after the House voted 333 to 79 for the censure, the most severe sanction it can administer short of expulsion.

The vote made Mr. Rangel, a Democrat, the 23rd member of the House to be censured, and the first in nearly three decades.

After receiving his punishment, Mr. Rangel, 80, asked for a minute to address his colleagues and told them: “I know in my heart I am not going to be judged by this Congress. I’ll be judged by my life in its entirety.”

Mr. Rangel and his allies had pleaded for mercy, arguing that his transgressions, which included failure to pay income taxes and misuse of his office to solicit fund-raising donations, deserved the more lenient punishment of a reprimand. But that effort failed, 267 to 146.

The censure marks a staggering fall for Mr. Rangel, who has represented Harlem for half of his life, and had risen to become one of the most prominent and well-liked members of Congress. Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, called upon Mr. Rangel to appear before her, and, in a subdued tone, read the one-paragraph resolution noting his 11 violations of Congressional ethics rules.

Still, talking to reporters after leaving the House floor, Mr. Rangel’s old pugnacity returned as he denounced the vote as partisan.

“I am confident that when the history of this has been written,” he said, “people will recognize that the vote for censure was a very, very, very political vote.”

Referring to misdeeds of others who had been censured, he said: “I did not curse out the speaker. I did not have sex with minors. I did not steal money.” When a reporter asked him what he felt as he stood in the well, he asked, “Are you a licensed psychiatrist?”

Only two Republicans, Representatives Peter T. King of New York and Don Young of Alaska, voted against the censure resolution. African-American members largely stood with Mr. Rangel, too, with just one member of the Congressional Black Caucus casting a vote for the censure.

“I have never heard anyone question Charlie Rangel’s integrity,” Mr. King said in his remarks on the House floor.

Mr. Rangel, a veteran of the Korean War and the civil rights movement, has been one of the most recognizable political figures in New York and Washington, known for his feisty advocacy of liberal policies. When Democrats seized control of the House in 2006, he earned the title of his career: chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

That prominence, however, was short-lived. In July 2008, news reports detailed his acceptance of several rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan real estate magnate at prices far below market. Mr. Rangel denied any wrongdoing but asked the ethics committee to investigate.

In the months that followed, new problems emerged, including his failure to pay taxes on rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic or to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on financial disclosure forms.

Mr. Rangel’s fund-raising for a City College school being built in his honor also became part of the ethics inquiry because he used Congressional stationery and postage to request donations and asked for contributions from companies and executives with business before Congress.

In one case, Mr. Rangel’s committee helped preserve a tax loophole worth hundreds of millions of dollars for an oil-drilling company that pledged $1 million.

Mr. Rangel denied using his office to benefit donors or to enrich himself, saying he was guilty only of bookkeeping errors. But under heavy pressure, he gave up his cherished chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.

After dragging out the ethics investigation for two years with aggressive legal challenges, Mr. Rangel walked out of a public hearing on the matter last month, saying he no longer could afford a lawyer. The ethics committee brushed aside his objections and found him guilty of 11 of 13 charges against him.

While the vote on Thursday seemed a foregone conclusion, suspense built when Mr. Rangel’s allies forced a floor vote on a motion to reduce the punishment to a reprimand. They argued that his misconduct did not approach the seriousness of others who had been censured, and that such a sanction would be extreme. The last two members who were censured, for example, had each been found guilty of having sexual relations with a Congressional page.

Mr. Rangel received unexpected support from Representative John S. Tanner of Tennessee, a leader of the conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

“As a lawyer, I also respect precedent,” said Mr. Tanner, who urged his colleagues to vote for a reprimand. “I have searched this record and find no activity involving moral turpitude, or any activity that could be classified as one with criminal intent.”

Representative Robert C. Scott, a Virginia Democrat who took part in the ethics committee’s investigation, also urged members to use restraint in meting out punishment.

“He knows he messed up,” Mr. Scott said. “He knows he will be punished. He just asks that he is punished like everyone else.”

The remarks echoed those contained in an e-mail that Mr. Rangel had sent to some 25,000 constituents and admirers over the past week, in which he asked them to call their representatives and seek mercy for him.

“I brought it on my myself, but I still believe this body has to be guided by fairness,” Mr. Rangel said, repeatedly asserting that he had not tried to enrich himself by his actions.

But other members said Mr. Rangel’s violations were too serious to warrant only a reprimand.

Representative Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the ethics committee, said that in the past, censure had been used for members who had used unparliamentary language and that Mr. Rangel had promised voters that Democrats would run the most ethical Congress in history.

“We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Ms. Lofgren said. “Mr. Rangel himself has acknowledged that.”

Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican who sits on the ethics committee, said members needed to take a firm stand in order to restore the public’s trust in Congress, which is near all-time lows.

“Credibility is exactly what is at stake at here,” Mr. McCaul said. “The credibility of the House of Representatives before the American people.”

Mr. Rangel’s long battle over the ethics charges has transfixed New York City’s political establishment and set off speculation about how long he will remain in office. Several Democrats are eyeing the seat, but no major figure dared to challenge Mr. Rangel this year, when he easily won re-election.

After the censure vote, reporters pressed the congressman about whether he would serve out the rest of his term, and run again. “At my age,” he replied, “I don’t buy green bananas.”

***

From the NY Times.

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3 Comments
  1. "LACK OF CIVIC VIRTUE": THERE FOR ALL TO SEE; and what Rangel did was bad too! permalink
    December 4, 2010 12:08 pm

    The Charles Rangel post above displays only the tip of the iceberg. Some of the real corruption in Congress is shown by each and every single “NO” vote (unless that congressional voter explained that all of Congress was equally guilty along with Rangel); and some of the ethical blindness by the sanctimonious nonsense to justify the “NO” votes.

    How, do you know if an elected government official has been corrupted?

    (Wait for it!) >>>>> “THEY’VE BEEN ELECTED!!!!!”

    I loved Long Island Republican Representative Peter King’s remarks. Is this “CLOUSEAU * ” really going to be put in charge of something having to do with “Homeland Security”?

    (Wait for it!) >>>>> “God help us.”

    Brothers and Sisters, do I hear an ‘AMEN’?

    ___________________________________

    * Inspector Jacques Clouseau: “There is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh, and this is not one of them.”

  2. Jig Lost Their Sanity permalink
    December 6, 2010 10:41 am

    Republican Petition Challenger Marty Golden Pathetically Fails At Write-In Campaign For Governor.

    The question begs, For the millions of atlas readers who make this blog the undisputed leaders in Kings County Republican Party politics.

    The question begs, This reform minded commentator has returned once again with another “Shameful”, and “Desperate” infinite times long shot campaign for governor, from a “Fake Republican”.

    The question begs, This time ladies and gentleman it comes from former failed two-time, “tomato can”, and “proud” Hate-Crime supporter among many other “Hateful”, “Despicable”, and “Morally Bankrupt” things, Marty “Pizza Face” Golden.

    The question begs, Talk about throwing your own “Party” under the bus once again.

    The question begs, Than again, the “Pizzaface”, challenged signatures from the very Kings County Republican Party, he’s a “member” in name only of, and “proudly” has stayed silent, on his fellow “Kings County Chairman”, Craig Eaton “Al-Qaeda” imitation video, this reform minded blog discovered last week.

    The question begs, No wonder the Kings County Republicans doesn’t want this “Pizzaface”.

    The question begs, Let’s take a look at this infinite times long shot campaign because this reform minded commentator likes doing things in the public, by the public, and for the public.

    The question begs, From http://vote.nyc.ny.us/pdf/results/2010/General/1.4KingsGovernorRecap.pdf

    “Assembly District 46 MARTY GOLDEN (WRITE-IN) 1.”

    The question begs, This reform minded commentator points out the “Pizzaface” lives infinite times far away from the 46th Assembly District which makes up most of Southwest Brooklyn, where as the “Pizzaface” lives in the 60th Assembly District.

    The question begs, This reform minded commentator points out, the “Pizzaface” got the idea of a “Shameful”, and “Desperate” campaign for governor, from now failed FIVE TIME TOMATO CAN, 60 year old criminal, Gerry “Rocky Balboa” Obrien.

    The question begs, If you can’t beat em in getting “Crushed” like a “Tomato Can”, you might as well join them.

    The question begs, Truly “Pathetic”.

    The question begs, Than again this reform minded commentator points out the “Hateful”, “Despicable”, and “Morally Bankrupt” other-blog, for which, the “Pizzaface” Marty Golden, is a sometimes “contributor” of did not support the candidacy of, Republican-Conservative candidate for governor, Carl Paladino.

    The question begs, It looks like the “Pizzaface” took the marching orders of, his “Democratic Patronage Hack” boss, Vito Lopez, in “launching” an “Anti-Republican”, “long-shot” campaign for governor, outside of his own assembly district, to keep it no so “obvious”.

    The question begs, No wonder he’s a “Pizzaface” ladies and gentleman.

    The question begs, Due to this “Hateful”, “Despicable”, and “Morally Bankrupt” actions by the “proud” Kings County Republican Party petition challenger, this reform minded commentator has “declared”, Marty “Pizzaface” Golden, a now THREE TIME TOMATO CAN.

    The question begs, This reform minded commentator is also declaring, Marty “Pizzaface” Golden, a “proud”, Hate-Crime supporter, and “proud” supporter of the “Terrorist” in training actions of his fellow “Brooklyn Chairmouse”, Craig Eaton.

    The question begs, As Always The Truth Has Spoken.

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