OK – Charlie Rangel is guilty…
Now with that done – Can we finally get around to frying the big fish?
A House ethics panel has convicted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on 11 of 13 counts of violating House ethics rules.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial of the 20-term lawmaker and nearly six hours of deliberations.
“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law,” Lofgren said. “We believe we have accomplished that mission.”
The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment. Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, which Rangel refused to agree to in July, or a censure would need just a simple majority. The ethics panel could also impose a fine and diminish some of Rangel’s privileges.
Asked if he had any reaction to the panel’s decision, Rangel initally told reporters, “Nope, none.” The congressman said he did not know if there is an appeals process at this point and added that he first saw the ruling on television.
In an official statement, Rangel slammed the ethics subcommittee’s “unprecedented” decision, saying his due process rights were violated since the panel ruled without him having legal representation.
“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?” Rangel 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 before making any decisions on sanction.”
The congressman did not indicate he would seek to appeal the decision saying, “While I am required to accept the findings of the Ethics Committee, I am compelled to state again the unfairness of its continuation without affording me the opportunity to obtain legal counsel as guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.”