Rangel Wants Censure Penalty Lightened

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Charles Rangel wants to tell House colleagues that censures are for corrupt politicians and he’s not one of them.

The House ethics committee voted 9-1 on Nov. 18 to recommend a censure of the 80-year-old Democrat from Harlem.

Rangel wants his punishment for ethics violations downgraded to a reprimand, according to congressional and nongovernment sources who are in touch with Rangel but not authorized to be quoted by name.

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

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

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 of them present in his case.

The ethics committee, in explaining its censure 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.”

Committee 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.

To the public, a censure and a reprimand appear similar because both take place 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 and can be a separate resolution or a vote to adopt the ethics committee’s findings. The member is not required to stand in the “well” of the chamber.

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.

Some of the donors, the committee found, were businesses and foundations with issues before the 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 failing 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 another $4,501 to New York state.

Rangel also has apologized and admitted his mistakes, although he denied any intent to violate standards of conduct.

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 and Crane with a female.

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.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • ammo17

    i could never understand how we can have two sets of laws,one for congress and one for the people that hire them to protect us from criminals like rangel. he should be tried in a civilian court and spend 20 years in a federal pen. this is treason and their are alot more democrats that are as corrupt as this this poor excuse for a politician and an american citizen and marine veteran.

  • MissJusticeNY

    Lenient censure? He should be fired! I thought this country was sick of corrupt politicians…

    • Harsh Reality


      Har-har! Think again.


      Every. Single. Politician.

  • Right is Right

    To say that Rangle’s years of disregard for the law is equivalent to Joe Wilson’s single emotional outburst (which turns out to be true) is rediculous. The only solution would be for Pelosi and Reid to stand in the well and publically apologize to Rep. Wilson.
    Rangle had ample opportunity to plead his case before the committee. He chose not to. Censre was a gift. He should shut up now.

  • frustrated

    You have got to be kidding. The fact that censure are for corrupt politicians and he’s not one of them. LMAO. Just because it finally caught up to him. What is he doing with a rent stabilized apt. And he”s the chairman of ways and means. If any one us did what he did we would be in jail no ifs or buts.

    • Disgusted

      Just be thankful that the other muck raker Sharpton has nto crawled out of his sewer yet in defense of this clown. We should not care how old he is, a crook is a crook, and he has been a thief for the last 10 years. Throw him out of Washington once and for all….

  • A. Concerned Cutizen

    How come there are no criminal charges being filed? This clown was in charge of writing the tax codes and he broke many of those laws. Is there one set of rules for politicians and one set of rules for everyone else. If you or I did what he did we would already be in prison for tax evasion. What a joke!! Resign and go away Charlie!!!

  • Frederick Zilch

    That scoundrel belongs in prison for the rest of his life and he’s asking Congress to slap his wrist gently?!

    • Gertrude Doright


      Scoundrel?! Let’s kick it up a notch or two and call him a rapscallion!

  • Eagle

    Then according to the censure example given in this article, Barney Frank should be a Congressman twice removed (Form the Congress).!!!

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