By MARCIA KRAMER
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It’s a political shocker.
The House panel that brought 13 counts of ethics violations against Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel and high angst to his constituents thinks the punishment should be a relatively mild rebuke.
It seemed like Congress threw the book at Rangel on Thursday.
“We’ve been presented by the investigative subcommittee with 13 very serious allegations relating to Mr. Rangel’s conduct,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said Thursday.
But it apparently had all the weight of a paperback. One of the Rangel investigators, Texas Democrat Gene Green, disclosed Friday that the punishment the panel wanted to recommend to the House was a “reprimand,” which is simply an expression of “displeasure” with a member’s conduct.
That may explain why Rangel, a 20-term congressman, seemed back to his old defiant self Friday.
“I wish I could talk with you and for those of you that feel compelled to ask a question … act like you did it,” Rangel said.
If that were to happen Rangel would be in the company of Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, reprimanded in 1990 for fixing parking tickets. Frank just co-authored the huge Wall Street overhaul bill.
The problem is that Rangel’s plea deal fell through and a new panel will preside at a public trial, if there is one. They can be influenced by the first panel’s recommendation but they don’t have to follow it.
“It’s time for Mr. Rangel to go,” said Pastor Michael Faulkner, Rangel’s Republican opponent. “He cannot win re-election because the majority of the people of the district no longer support him. He has broken our hearts. He has disappointed us. He has separated us from democracy.”
Faulkner said he doesn’t think reprimand is enough. On Friday he demanded a criminal probe of Congressman Rangel by state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
“My first reaction was why didn’t he resign? But since he chose not to resign he needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Faulkner said.
Republicans want Congressman Rangel to be tried publicly. Here’s why: a new national poll found that 52 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents think Rangel’s ethics charges will hurt the Democrats in November.
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