November 19, 2010 in Nation/World

House ethics committee calls for Rangel censure

Lawmaker insists he didn’t act for personal benefit
William Douglas McClatchy
Associated Press photo

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., left, listens as as Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., speaks on behalf of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., center, on Thursday during an ethics committee hearing.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The House ethics committee recommended Thursday that 20-term Rep. Charles Rangel be censured by the House of Representatives for 11 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct, a punishment milder than expulsion from Congress but harsher than the reprimand many thought he would receive.

In a 9-1 vote, the panel also recommended that Rangel, D-N.Y., the former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, pay back taxes dating to the early 1990s.

The committee’s recommendation now goes to the full House, which is likely to consider the recommendation after the Thanksgiving holiday. Rangel could be the first member of the House to be censured in almost three decades.

Before tearfully placing himself on the mercy of the committee, Rangel insisted he did nothing deliberately wrong or for personal financial benefit.

“There has never been any corruption or personal gain in my actions, as the committee’s chief counsel noted,” Rangel said in a written statement. “Neither has there been any intent on my part to violate House rules. My actions may have been sloppy, or even stupid, but never corrupt.”

Still, Rangel said, “There is no excuse for my acts of omission and failures to abide by the rules of Congress. I have made many mistakes that I will forever regret, and I apologize for them.”

A special trial-like ethics subcommittee panel Tuesday found Rangel, 80, guilty of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets, improper use of several rent-controlled apartments in his Harlem district, questionable fundraising efforts for a City College of New York center that bears his name, and failing to pay taxes on his Dominican Republic property.

Several congressional experts thought the committee would recommend that Rangel be reprimanded, one of the mildest forms of punishment available to the House.

In the history of the House, only five members have been expelled. Twenty-two House members have been censured, most recently the late Rep. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., in 1983 for having a sexual relationship with an underage male congressional page.

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