Charlie Rangel Scrambles to Make Last-Minute Deal to Avoid Trial
July 28, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Today is a critical day for Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY), a beloved fixture in the House of Representatives for 40-years. He is in trouble, big trouble. Rangel is facing a rare public trial, set to convene on Thursday by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, wherein the panel will publicly air the long list of ethics charges against Rangel. The 80-year-old lawmaker and his legal team are working with the House ethics committee to strike a deal, before the specter of a public trial that would most likely turn into a media circus and a partisan free-for-all, as the November elections near. Pressure is mounting on Rangel to negotiate a settlement, which would result in Rangel admitting to at least some of the charges. As Rangel nears the twilight of his long-standing political career, his job is in jeopardy. Although combative, insisting he will fight the charges against him, two Democratic lawmakers have already called for his resignation.
The negotiating process is now ongoing between teams of lawyers on both sides. And Rangel is preparing for the worst, with Thursday’s trial going forward as scheduled.
“People are trying to avoid the [spectacle] of a hearing and, to me, it makes sense, and I’m not participating in it but my lawyers are, so if they can do anything to pierce the cloud of doubt with the truth, however it’s done,” he said. “When we were doing congressional conferences, there was [an] expression that said until everything is agreed upon, nothing is agreed upon. So that’s the way it is, and as far as I know, the schedule … is still on.”
According to Politico, the settlement negotiations have already drawn partisan sniping over the process. Republicans complained improper meetings took place without Republican representatives present:
“On Tuesday, ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) denied reports that she had met with Rangel the previous night in the committee’s warren of offices in the basement of the Capitol. But there were conflicting accounts about whether lawmakers were present. Sources agreed that, at the very least, Rangel’s lawyers met with ethics staff.”
But Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said she was not aware of any improper meetings.
“I don’t know that that happened,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said when asked about the meeting.
Rangel faces a slew of ethics charges over questionable real estate deals and tax evasion. The deliberations by the House ethics panel are shielded in secrecy, but a number of the charges have been leaked.
“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.”
If a deal is not reached, the entire list of charges against Rangel will be made public on Thursday, during the first organizational meeting of the adjudicatory committee.