CaribWorldNews, WASHINGTON, D.C., Weds. Nov. 17, 2010: New York Congressman Charles Rangel, largely dubbed a friend of the Caribbean, has been found guilty of breaking 11 separate congressional rules.
Rangel, who recently won re-election in New York City as a 20-tearm congressman, was declared guilty Tuesday by members of the Committee of Standards of Official Conduct or the House Ethics Subcommittee. The committee`s ruling came a day after Rangel briefly appeared in front of them to say he had no legal representation since he could no longer afford to pay his legal team and asked to be recused.
But the eight member lawmaker subcommittee refused to be swayed, rejecting his appeal for an extension and instead reached a unanimous verdict on 10 of the 13 counts, including, that Rangel improperly used his congressional staff and official letterhead to raise seven-figure donations from corporate charities and chief executives for a college wing named in his honor; violated New York City rules by housing his political committees in his rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; did not pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic; and did not properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial assets.
Two charges – involving violations of postal service laws and House mail privilege statutes – were merged into one, which the panel concluded had `clear and convincing evidence` that Rangel violated rules.
The committee says it will now send the case to the full ethics committee for the equivalent of sentencing. The full committee is expected to begin considering Rangel`s punishment Thursday.
Potential punishments include a formal reprimand or censure, with either of those needing to be ratified by a vote on the House floor. Expulsion is another possible penalty but is considered highly unlikely.
The 80-year-old congressman yesterday released a statement blasting the decision. `How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?` it said. `I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress.`
But Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairman of the full committee, said, We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the fact of law. And I believe we have accomplished that mission.`
Rangel earlier this year was forced to give up his powerful Ways and Means Committee Chairmanship post after being admonished by an ethics panel for taking corporate trips to the Caribbean to conferences organized by the New York Carib News paper, in violation of House rules. The congressman was a regular at the conferences and is a friend of many Caribbean leaders. He was this year honored by the Jamaican government and has in the past hosted Caribbean leaders in New York for a conference on the Caribbean and its Diaspora.