Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his 80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting ethics charges. Other Democrats won’t be so pleased. The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign season. Democrats will have to defend their party’s conduct. If enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House. Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to “drain the swamp” of ethical misdeeds in Congress.
Rangel had a choice. His lawyer had been negotiating with the House ethics committee to settle his case. But to end it, Rangel would have had to accept the allegations. Rangel had been willing to accept some, but that didn’t satisfy the committee, according to a person familiar with the talks but not authorized to be quoted by name.
“I look forward to airing this thing,” Rangel, who is tied for fourth in House seniority, told reporters Thursday, insisting the allegations against him have no substance.
“I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,” he said.
It was disclosed Thursday that Rangel is being charged with multiple ethics violations. The ethics committee won’t reveal the specific charges until next Thursday at a public meeting. However, several persons familiar with the allegations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly, said some of the charges against Rangel, who has spent 40 years in Congress, were related to:
_Rangel’s use of official stationery to raise money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York.
_His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York City. The city’s rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to one’s primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office, raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an improper gift.
_Rangel’s failure to report income as required on his annual financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his failure to report income from the lawmaker’s rental unit at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment assets.
Rangel is 80-years-old. Perhaps it’s just time to retire.