U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY, has been found guilty of 11 ethics violations by a House Ethics Adjudicatory Subcommittee today, following about six hours of deliberations.
We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, after announcing the verdict. We believe we have accomplished that mission.
Lofgren, who chaired the eight-member subcommittee, said the panel had seen clear and convincing evidence that Rangel, a veteran lawmaker of 40 years, had broken House ethics rules.
Now that the subcommittee has found Rangel guilty, the full House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct must meet and decide upon a punishment to recommend to the full House. The committee could recommend to reprimand, fine, suspend or even expel the Congressman.
The investigation into Rangel's personal finances began nearly two years ago. When faced with 13 ethics violations, Rangel, then the chairman of the powerful House Ways and means Committee, sought to work out as deal with House investigators whereby he would admit guilt to some of the oversights without the spectacle of a public trial.
But House Republicans refused the proposed deal. Rangel appealed the charges, and an ethics trial was triggered.
According to the committee's Statement of Alleged Violation, while chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel solicited donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at City College of New York from corporations that could benefit from the work of his committee - a violation of House ethics rules.
He used official Congressional letterhead in making the solicitations and the Congressional franking privilege to mail the solicitations - both involving several possible ethics violations, the House said.
Rangel was also being charged with failing to disclose about $600,000 of income from several rental properties over a number of years; accepting the gift of a rent-stabilized apartment to use as a campaign headquarters; failure to pay federal taxes on a property he owns in the Dominican Republic; and accepting other gifts, directly and indirectly, from companies his committee could possibly help, according to the allegations.
On Monday, when the trail began, Rangel requested a postponement, saying he needed time to raise money to afford an attorney.
The panel considered and denied Rangel's request. He then walked out of the trial in protest, a move that was within his legal rights.
I am very disappointed that the Ethics Subcommittee has chosen to proceed with the hearing knowing that I am without counsel, Rangel said yesterday. The Committee has deprived me of the fundamental right to counsel and has chosen to proceed as if it is fair and impartial and operating according to rules, when in reality they are depriving me of my rights.
During the summer, when an ethics trial was a possibility, Rangel had said he wouyld welcome the chance to prove his innocence. He severed relations with his attorneys in September, and now claims that he does not have the money to hire counsel.
Although Rangel maintained his innocence, he relinquished the Ways and Means chairmanship earlier this year under pressure from members of his own party. He was re-elected to a 21st Congressional term on Nov. 2.
Noting that there was no dispute on the facts of the case, the committee made an early motion to forego further witnesses and evidence and entered into an executive session to debate each count against Rangel.
Lofgren said she expected the full committee to meet on the Rangel matter as early as next week.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-TX, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee, said he hoped the panel's decision would help return integrity to the House of Representatives.