House Votes To Censure Rep. Charlie Rangel

Harlem Dem: 'I'm Not Going To Be Judged By This Congress'

NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) — Veteran Rep. Charles Rangel, the raspy-voiced, backslapping former chairman of one of Congress’ most powerful committees, was censured by his House colleagues for financial misconduct Thursday in a solemn moment of humiliation in the sunset of his career.

After the 333-79 vote, the Democrat from New York’s Harlem stood at the front of the House and faced Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she read him the formal resolution of censure.

Pelosi Reads the Censure

Listen to Representative Rangel

 WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports on the censure punishment for Rangel.
1010 WINS Reporter Al Jones gets reaction from Harlem

Responding, he admitted he had made mistakes and said he was sorry he had put fellow House members in an embarrassing position. But he suggested the winds of politics were involved as well.

“In my heart I truly feel good,” Rangel said. “A lot of it has to do with the fact that I know in my heart that I am not going to be judged by this Congress, but I am going to be judged by my life.”

It was only the 23rd time in the nation’s history that a House member received the most severe punishment short of expulsion. Rangel committed ethical and fundraising violations of House rules, including submitting misleading financial statements and failing to pay all his taxes, the chamber’s ethics committee determined last month.

Before the censure vote, the House rejected an attempt to reduce his punishment to a simple reprimand.

That vote was 267-146.

The dapper congressman, wearing a blue suit, blue tie and a blue handkerchief, told his fellow lawmakers, “I have made serious mistakes.”

But he pleaded with them to be “guided by fairness,” taking account of his long record and his service in the Korean War. Before that, the chairman of the ethics committee, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, said the censure her committee recommended was consistent with a Democratic pledge to run “the most honest, most open, most ethical Congress in history.” She said Rangel “violated the public trust” while serving in influential positions including chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel was at times contrite, saying that members of Congress “have a higher responsibility than most people” for ethical conduct and that senior lawmakers like himself “should act as a model” for newer lawmakers.

“I brought it on to myself,” he said of his troubles.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports CBS News’ Dotty Lynch on censure vs. reprimand

Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, the top Republican on the ethics committee, said the nation’s voters were paying attention to how the House dealt with a member who committed serious ethical violations.

“I have no doubt the people we work for will be watching with interest,” Bonner said.

The House chamber was about two-thirds full. Many members had their heads bowed over mobile phones and a few iPads. Someone’s BlackBerry pinged every time an e-mail arrived.

A half-dozen members spoke in Rangel’s defense, arguing a reprimand was appropriate. A handful of Democrats applauded after one of them, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, backed Rangel.

Rangel has said repeatedly he did not intend to break any House rules, and he walked out of the ethics committee’s deliberations last month because, he said, he had been treated unfairly for “good faith mistakes.”

The panel found him guilty on 11 of 13 charges and overwhelmingly recommended that he be censured.

It’s a difficult sunset for Rangel’s long career.

A jovial politician with a distinctive voice, Rangel was re-elected in November with more than 80 percent of the vote despite being under an ethics cloud for more than two years. He has argued that censure is reserved for corrupt politicians — and he’s not one of them.

He also has been making a more personal plea, asking colleagues to remember that he won a Purple Heart after he was wounded in combat in Korea, to focus on his efforts for the underprivileged and to understand that he has great respect for the institution he has served for so long.

He’s tied for fourth in House seniority.

The House ethics committee painted Rangel as a congressman who ignored rules of conduct and became a tax scofflaw despite his knowledge of tax law from his long service on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel chaired that panel until last March, when he stepped down after the panel — in a separate case — found that he improperly allowed corporations to finance two trips to Caribbean conferences.

Rangel shortchanged the IRS for 17 years by failing to pay taxes on income from his rental unit in a Dominican Republic resort. He filed misleading financial disclosure reports for a decade, leaving out hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets he owned. He used congressional letterheads and staff to solicit donations for a monument to himself: a center named after him at City College of New York.

The donors included businesses and their charitable foundations that had issues before Congress and, specifically, before the Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel also set up a campaign office in the Harlem building where he lives, despite a lease specifying the unit was for residential use only.

He has paid the Treasury $10,422 and New York state $4,501 to fulfill an ethics committee recommendation.

The amounts were to cover taxes he would have owed on his villa income had the statute of limitations not run out on his tax bills.

The last previous House censure was in 1983, when two members, Reps. Gerry E. Studds, D-Mass., and Daniel Crane, R-Ill., were disciplined for having sex with teenage pages.

Nine House members have been reprimanded, the latest last year when Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. was punished for a breach of decorum.

Wilson had yelled “You lie” at President Barack Obama during a nationally televised speech to Congress.

The objective for the House is to make the punishment fit the ethics violation.

In past cases, a censure usually was reserved for congressmen who enriched themselves personally.

Rangel was not charged with lining his pockets. But the ethics committee found that his violations went on for so long that the pattern of misconduct deserved a censure.

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

More from Tony Aiello

One Comment

  1. CHRISTINE says:



  2. Ally says:

    If all Americans in the last 50 years have reported their taxes correctly, truthfully no one would raise their right hand, as a result all of them should be shot to the moon and humans would finally be distinct. Why are we ganging up on Charlie?

    1. t says:

      he is the one who desides how much taxes you pay and then doesnt pay them himself!

    2. jERRY says:

      You gotta be kidding. You must have went to the same school he did? He’s our representative he must be held to a higher degree. he should have been thrown out.AND FINED TO KINGDOM COME!

  3. Hornet Montana says:

    Censure the waddling phlegm in his throat.
    Or whatever the hell that is.

  4. Angela says:

    So let me get this straight, Rangel breaks the law and yet his crime is only punishable by censure. Well, well, well, apparently he must be above the law. I say we all should be entitled to the same punishment as Rangel!

  5. AnnonUSA says:

    Complete Crook….

    Vote for him again.

  6. James Valler says:

    Shoot him out of a canon already.

  7. jme says:

    this low life doesn’t pay the back taxes either. if it was you or me we would be in jail, house repossessed, etc.

  8. Janet says:

    He says he wants to be “treated fairly.” If that were the case he’d be on his way to prison.

  9. Gronald Wagner says:

    PLEASE. He should just “man-up” and take his mild punishment and go on with his ego-based lifestyle. Those that are crying that his censure is unfair, think about what would have happened to YOU if you were caught not paying your taxes and guilty of the other things Mr Rangel “overlooked” over the years. He knew better, deserves no special consideration, zip his lip and take his censure (slap on the wrist) like a man. Let’s move on.

  10. j hiou says:

    politicans like him disguise me, actually i belived 95% of them went into politics for the $$$. they could care less about the people.
    fired him. make him pay back all he owes.

  11. Steve says:

    Why is this even a discussion? If any of us normal citizens where convicted of the crimes, we would loose our jobs,and be jailed. Why is this individual being allowed to skate away. We want to hold our leaders to a high standard, yet we excuse there crimes. Shame on us!!

  12. E says:


  13. frank says:

    He broke the law for an awful long time and finally got caught. Now he will be given a “tongue lashing” by another politician. How dreadful for poor Charlie who will put this all behind him in short order and continue his life of Riley. What a system we have set up for these folks.

  14. Foghorn Leghorn says:

    This boy is about as annoying as an egg-fart in an elevator!

  15. sharon wolff says:

    The “key” statement here is “FOUND GUILTY OF 11 ETHICS CHARGES” Why the heck is Rangel asking for “leniency”? Its akin to a burgular asking for a “slap on the wrist” or a murderer asking for another chance. Rangel you comitted a crime, you are a public figure, you should know better. You do the crime you do the time! Just because you are a politician you think you deserve leniency? Give me a break.

  16. Stephen says:

    What is the difference between this and the comedy channel Roast? The answer is, these are thieves Roasting a thief instead of a Comedians Roasting a comedian. He should be fired! but if that were to happen then he would tell on everyone else and we would have no one running this county!

  17. mark silvers says:

    CENSURE HIM!. Too bad he couldn’t be thrown out.

  18. marty says:

    Yes, George you are correct. Rangel and Hevesi belong in jail. Censure? What a JOKE. And how the h-ell did he get elected with only 25,000 supporters?

  19. GEORGE SCOTT says:

    A typical New York Politician – Same as Hevesi. Is there any difference ?
    He will be allowed to retire with his full pension even though he broke the law and violated our trust !!!!

  20. c smith says:

    Big deal he gets censured by people that did not get caught like him. He keeps hid job, money, etc.. does he have to pay back taxes? Give up his rent controlled offices? What a joke. We embarress him, then we all go to lunch!

Comments are closed.

More From CBS New York


Listen Live