November 17, 2010

Rangel Found Guilty of Violating House Ethics

I'm very disappointed in Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). He allowed his arrogance, ego and pride to get in the way of his commonsense and ethics. As a result a House Ethics subcommittee was able to find him guilty of 11 ethics violations after a two-year investigation.

Rangel had been accused of 13 charges, including misusing rent-controlled apartments, using his office to solicit donations to an educational center and improperly filing taxes and financial statements. The committee found he had violated all but one charge; two of the counts were rolled into one in the final verdict.

The findings will be sent to the full committee, who will make a recommendation to the House regarding Rangel's punishment. The House ethics committee set a hearing for tomorrow on the appropriate punishment for Rangel, a Democrat who formerly wielded great influence as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) noted,
"We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law, and I believe we have accomplished that mission."
The last time this subcommittee held a trial like this was in 2002 against Rep. James Traficant (D-OH). Traficant was eventually kicked out of the House of Representatives. Nobody thinks that 80-year old Rangel will face similiar punishment. Possible sanctions include a House vote deploring his conduct, a fine and denial of certain privileges.

Rangel didn't to himself any favors when the subcommittee met earlier this week. He walked out of the 'courtroom' when the subcommittee lawyer acting as the matter's prosecutor spent just minutes cycling through the evidence against him. After playing video clips of a speech in which the Harlem Democrat admitted wrongdoing, the lawyer, Blake Chisam, called no witnesses, an apparent testament to the strength of the case against Rangel, who openly admitted on the House floor that he broke some rules.

There are some who say that Rangel didn't do anything more than others have done before.  African Americans have always known that we cannot get away with the same things that others get away with.  We still need to operate on the premise of doing twice as much to get half as far.

Rangel is learning the hard way that nobody is above the law. It is a sad way for this old lion to end his career.

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