NEW YORK (CBS 2) — It was supposed to be a huge birthday fund-raising blowout for Congressman Rangel’s 80th, celebrating his 40 years on Capitol Hill and raising lots of money for his re-election campaign. Instead, as CBS 2’s Magee Hickey reports, it’s turning into a huge embarrassment for the troubled Harlem Democrat.
Rangel faces trial on 13 alleged ethics violations, and some of the bold-face names on the invitation were coming up with excuses on why they’re not attending.
President Clinton said he had to be in Arkansas instead of the Plaza tonight.
Rangel, who’s actual 80th birthday was June 11, even sent out recorded messages urging people to attend.
“It’s going to be a terrific party. Please try to make it. I look forward to meeting you,” the robo call said.
The shrinking guest list includes these probable nays: Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, and state Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo.
Those who appear to be on the yes list include: Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Paterson, Senator Gillibrand and City Council speaker Christine Quinn.
Rangel’s party comes just one day after the 80-year-old took to the House floor to defend himself in a 38-minute rambling speech, against the advice of friends and lawyers.
“Are you going to expel me from this body?” he asked.
The beleaguered Harlem Democrat begged his colleagues not to desert him. “Hey don’t leave me swinging in the wind until November, he said. “Hey if I was you I may want me to go away too. I am not going away. I am here.”