Rep. Rangel: I Have Not Been Treated Fairly

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/AP) — Rep. Charles Rangel is ready to make a last stand to salvage his reputation and tell the House that a censure should be reserved for crooked politicians.

He will argue that he’s not one of them.

The 80-year-old Democrat from Harlem wants his punishment for ethics violations downgraded to a reprimand.

Rangel will ask the House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., for time to plead his case on the floor of the House, where he has served for 40 years, including a stint as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

“I do expect to take the floor and to make it abundantly clear that I do not believe that I have been treated fairly,” Rangel told WCBS 880 on Sunday.

Rangel plans to argue that censure has been imposed for violations including bribery, accepting improper gifts, personal use of campaign funds and sexual misconduct; none is present in his case.

“Conduct that I have been found guilty of has seldom reached a level of a reprimand, much less a censure.”

The ethics committee voted 9-1 on Nov. 18 that Rangel should be censured for committing 11 counts of fundraising and financial misdeeds that violated House rules.

“There is no evidence in the history of the House of Representatives that someone is being censured where corruption is not a factor,” Rangel said.

There is precedent for Rangel’s argument that censure — the most severe punishment short of expulsion — is too harsh in his case. It won’t be easy because he’ll have to overcome the overwhelming vote of a committee that has an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.

Rangel said he expected some colleagues would support “an amendment or motion…to reduce the sanction.”

The ethics committee, in explaining its recommendation, agreed in a report that the discipline usually is reserved for lawmakers who enrich themselves. In Rangel’s case, the committee said, its decision was based on “the cumulative nature of the violations and not any direct personal financial gain.”

The committee’s chief counsel, Blake Chisam, responding to a question from a committee member, told Rangel’s ethics trial that he saw no evidence of corruption.

The House will take up Rangel’s discipline in the postelection session that resumes Monday, but no date has been set for decide his punishment.

To the public, a censure and a reprimand appear similar. Both punishments are meted out on the floor of the House and include a vote disapproving a member’s conduct.

A censure goes beyond the vote and requires the disciplined member to appear at the front of the chamber — called the “well” — and receive an oral rebuke from the speaker that includes a reading of the resolution.

A reprimand is simply a vote of disapproval. It can be a separate resolution or a vote to adopt the ethics committee’s findings. The punished lawmaker is not required to stand in the well.

Rangel was found to have improperly used official resources — congressional letterheads and staff — to raise funds from businesses and foundations for a center named after him at the City College of New York.

“I do know as a result of a two-year investigation, the committee found no evidence of self-enrichment, corruption or bribery, but did find an overzealous Rangel trying to help City College and a sloppy Rangel in terms of keeping my books,” Rangel said.

Some of the donors, the committee found, were businesses and foundations with issues before the House Ways and Means Committee. The contributions left the impression that the money was to influence legislation, although Rangel was not charged with taking any action on behalf of donors.

He also was found guilty of filing a decade’s worth of misleading annual financial disclosure forms that failed to list hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets, and failure to pay taxes for 17 years on his rental unit in the Dominican Republic — an embarrassment for someone who presided over tax legislation.

In addition, the committee told Rangel to pay any taxes he still owed.

The sources said Rangel complied last week, sending the U.S. Treasury a check for $10,422 and a check for $4,501 to New York state.

Rangel has apologized and admitted his mistakes, although he denied any intent to violate standards of conduct.  Rangel also said despite the disciplinary action, he has seen worse during his time fighting in the Korean War.

“I told God if he got me out of that mess where I was behind the grounds — the enemy lines — for three days, that I would never complain.  So compared to what I have been through, I haven’t had a bad day since then,” Rangel said.

Twenty-two House members have been censured while nine have been reprimanded. The last censures were in 1983, when the House disciplined Reps. Gerry E. Studds, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Daniel Crane, an Illinois Republican. Both were cited for sexual misconduct with teenage pages — Studds with a male page, Crane with a female one.

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., was the last to be reprimanded. He was disciplined in September 2009, in a partisan vote, for shouting “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during a nationally televised speech to Congress.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Aidan

    Jail him and then deport him.

  • Bill Smith

    The only crime committed is it took 40 years to catch him.

  • Rablen

    Just wait until the good Reverend Al and his cohort Jesse enter the fray. I guarantee you that these two publicity hounds will turn this into a racist farce, as is their habit. Well, after all, he couldn’t possibly be guilty, could he? He’s black. So this whole charade is obviously constructed to target the black man. Wait for it.

  • Bill

    He should be in jail, that’s what would have happened to any of us.

  • RktScience

    He was treated unfairly, If he were treated fairly he’d be in jail where he belongs.

  • bill

    C’mon, he fought in a war, so he has a right to steal you retirement money and your children’s education money. He’s been doing that for 40 years.

  • bill

    Poor Rangel: 5 illegal apartments, 40 years in a position that he has pilfered and stolen from, illegal donations for favors, and he hasn’t “been treated fairly.”

    Meanwhile the NY Democrats think Governor Paterson getting 2 baseball tickets is the most heinous crime, but they are silent with Rangel’s circus of serious, long-term crimes. Hypocrites, all of them.

  • Bridget Abenante

    If me or you did’t pay taxes for 17 years and did what he did with those apartments do you honestly think we would get a slap on the wrist? He needs to be punished to show his buddies that the people have had it with these criminals. He will get away with it and spend the money he stole and should have paid in taxes. The goverment is so corrupt that it is a shame. Take your punishment like a man Mr. Rangel. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

    • dpaulsweeney

      The only issue that has not been raised against Charlie is a sexual issue. All the others are there in plain sight..By Charlie

  • Joe

    “Rangel Wants House To Reject Rangel” is what the headline would read if only politics were true.

  • Bishop R Hall

    Well The man was doing his doin the best that he can if he was crooked I would say lock him up . but they was trying to get his seat. after 40 years this is the way we treat a man that gave his life to public service. If we look at other that voted to punish him we would fine much worst crime he did not break the law so I think we should be mindful and that we all have sinned , and we all fall Short of the Glory of God ! Have a Great Holiday let God handle him he has put his time God will fix what ever is wronge with all of us.

  • fern

    A politician is an honest person and would never do anything else but serve the community that elected him. Nasty people may accuse him of improprieties but I’m sure they’re wrong this money was used to help the poorest of the poor in N.Y. that and also the help he gave to the poor people evicted from their Park Ave apartments.

  • Ben Umnus

    When you do something wrong you are to be punished, there is nothing to argue about that… but let’s just see if the House is corrupted enough to do what Rangel wants….

  • Felix

    I guess Charlie needs mental help. What is going on with this guy? My feeling is that he had being seated there for so many years and he believe he can do what ever he wants.

    President Obama told him that he should retired with dignity and this guy got offended at the same time he goes and is elected again by the people he benefited from and now he is living in a world of fantasy. I guess the best thing he should do is the President advise go home anjoy your millions dollars you have and your codominiun in Domican Republic and bring a new face that is fresh and not drunk by power

  • CarrieOkie

    I had the nerve to work overtime one year and got hit with a huge tax bill that I had trouble paying and the IRS hounded me to the grave over it. Eventually, they garnished my check for 10% and this at a time when I had lost my job and was working temp, so forgive me if I have zero sympathy for him. He could have at any time recommended tax laws that didnt financially ruin people but as long as he didn’t pay, he could care less but now it’s his turn. You don’t “accidently” forget to pay taxes for 17 years. And while I feel the taxes in the country are out of control and exhorbitant, Rangel had a chance to do something about them and he never did.

    • Don Payne

      Censure; no criminal penalty; no financial penalty, no expulsion. And the Congress of the United States thinks that we are stupid enough to think that this criminal is being punished. We are moronic sheep that deserve the government we have if anyone thinks we still live in a democratic republic. Plutocratic oligarchy is more like it.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live