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House Panel: Charles Rangel Committed 11 Ethics Violations

Tuesday, 16 Nov 2010 12:02 PM

Rep. Charles Rangel, a veteran New York Democrat and one of the longest-serving legislators in the House, has been found guilty on 11 of 13 ethics charges, ending a two-year investigation into his personal finances. The devastating findings came one day after Rangel, claiming he had no lawyer, stormed out of the hearing after being denied more time to secure an attorney.

Rangel was found guilty of the charges by a special eight-member panel of the House Ethics Committee, which deliberated for roughly six hours, according to Politico. The panel found that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Rangel had violated House ethics on 11 of the 13 charges he faced heading into a rare public ethics trial.

Charles Rangel, guilty, ethics, houseRangel, 80, had parted ways with his previous law firm last month. The full ethics committee will now consider punishment for Rangel, and possibly refer the case to the House floor with a recommendation for a sanction against the lawmaker.

Rangel had been accused of bringing dishonor to Congress by accepting rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan developer, failing to pay taxes on a rental income from his Dominican villa, and raising charitable donations from companies and corporate executives who had business before the committee he led.

Possible punishments include a House vote deploring Rangel's conduct, a fine, and denial of privileges, according to The Associated Press.

The eight-member ethics panel had sat as a jury to judge Rangel's conduct. The 80-year-old congressman from Harlem was charged with 13 counts of financial and fundraising wrongdoing.

Rangel, a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, is not expected to resign. He remains a dominant political figure in New York's famed Harlem neighborhood.

He was forced to step down last March as Ways and Means chairman when the House Ethics Committee, in a separate case, admonished him for taking two Caribbean trips paid for by corporations.

At his one-day trial on Monday, Rangel was reduced to pleading for a postponement — arguing that his lawyers abandoned him after he paid them some $2 million but could afford no more. The panel rejected his request, and Rangel walked out of the proceeding.

Only last spring, Rangel wielded significant power in the House from his position as the main writer of tax legislation. He was not present Tuesday when the verdict was announced.

The full ethics committee now will convene a hearing on the appropriate punishment for Rangel, the silver-haired, gravelly voiced, and sartorially flashy veteran of 20 terms in the House.

The congressional panel found that Rangel had used House stationery and staff to solicit money for a New York college center named after him. It also concluded he solicited donors for the center with interests before the Ways and Means Committee, leaving the impression the money could influence official actions.

He also was found guilty of failing to disclose at least $600,000 in assets and income in a series of inaccurate reports to Congress; using a rent-subsidized New York apartment for a campaign office, when it was designated for residential use; and failure to report to the IRS rental income from a housing unit in a Dominican Republic resort.

The ethics panel split 4-4 on a charge that Rangel violated a ban on gifts because he was to have an office — and storage of his papers — at the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.

Two counts charging him with misuse of Congress' free mail privilege were merged into one.

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