Rangel Faces Trial on Ethics Charges: First Since Traficant
July 23, 2010
(ChattahBox)— Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), a beloved New York politician for decades, is now fighting for his political life as he nears the end of his career at the age of 80. A slew of ethics investigations have been clouding the colorful 20-term congressman for two-years. And now they have culminated into a public trial before the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. The last time Congress convened a trail for a lawmaker was in 2002 in the corruption trial of James A. Traficant Jr. That didn’t end well. Traficant was just released from prison, after serving a seven-year sentence.
The House panel found “substantial reason to believe” that Rangel violated a number of ethics rules. According to the report by The New York Times, the full case against Rangel is not known, but a number of details have recently come to light:
“But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel, 80, wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor. The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.”
Rangel remains combative and has ruled out any suggestion that he would resign. “I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,” said Rangel.
In March, Rangel was forced to step down from his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, in the midst of another scandal. The House ethics committee found that Rangel violated Congressional standards of conduct, by attending Caribbean conferences that were funded by corporations. Rangel was formally admonished by the committee for violating congressional gifts rules.
Politically, the longer Rangel remains in the public eye as a face for Democratic political corruption, with the mid-terms just four-months away, the more damage he does to his Party’s electoral chances to retain the House majority.
It’s expected that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) along with other Democratic leaders will exert pressure on Rangel to retire.
The full case against Rangel will be made public on July 29, during the first organizational meeting of the adjudicatory committee. The trial is expected to begin in September.
Watch Rangel’s statement: