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Rangel guilty of violations


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Rangel guilty of violations

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A United States Congressional Ethics Panel today found Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, a strong Caribbean advocate, guilty of 11 of 12 allegations of violating the House of Representatives ethics rules.
Rangel, the Harlem Democratic Congressman, who had boycotted his own hearing on Monday, was not in the chamber when the committee chairwoman, California Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, announced the verdict.
 “We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the rule of law,” said Lofgren.
Rangel, 80, had been facing 13 charges, but the bi-partisan committee combined two of the charges.
The violations ranged from accepting rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan, New York, developer to failing to pay taxes on rental income from his Dominican Republic villa to raising charitable donations from companies and corporate executives who had business before the committee he chaired.
The subcommittee was unable to reach a verdict on one count, which charged Rangel with violating House gift rules by accepting contributions for Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at City College of New York.
An ethics probe earlier this year had found that Rangel and six members of the Congressional Black Caucus had taken questionable trips to Antigua and St. Maarten in violation of Congressional rules.
In walking out of the trial on Monday, Rangel said he was not being given enough time to raise funds to hire new lawyers because the committee was “rushing to complete its work” before the conclusion of the current lame-duck Congress.
Rangel’s original defence team left him in September.
“What theory of fairness would dictate that I be denied due process because it is going to be the end of this session?” he asked. He had earlier described the committee’s decision to proceed without delay a violation of “the most basic rights guaranteed to every person under the Constitution”.
Lofgren, said it was Rangel’s responsibility to assemble his legal team. She also said that Rangel had received advice numerous times from the committee on how to raise funds for his defence.
“Retention of counsel is up to the respondent,” she said.
Rangel said he had paid some US$2 million to a Washington law firm before they parted company last month and needed time to raise another one million dollars to hire new lawyers for this hearing.
The convictions cast a cloud over the half-century political career of Rangel, who was re-elected this month to a 21st term as Harlem’s representative and who was the head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
Ethics experts say the committee is likely to issue Rangel only a letter of reprimand or a formal censure.
While the committee has the power to expel, they say that has happened only rarely and is considered highly unlikely. (CMC)

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