WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Charles Rangel is ready to make a last stand to salvage his reputation and tell the House that a censure should be reserved for crooked politicians.
He will argue that he’s not one of them.
The 80-year-old Democrat from New York’s Harlem neighborhood wants his punishment for ethics violations downgraded to a reprimand, according to congressional and nongovernment sources who are in touch with Rangel but are not authorized to be quoted by name.
Rangel will ask the House ethics committee chairman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., for time to plead his case on the floor of the House, where he has served for 40 years, including a stint as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
The ethics committee voted 9-1 on Nov. 18 that Rangel should be censured for committing 11 counts of fundraising and financial misdeeds that violated House rules.
There is precedent for Rangel’s argument that censure — the most severe punishment short of expulsion — is too harsh in his case. It won‘t be easy because he’ll have to overcome the overwhelming vote of a committee that has an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
Rangel plans to argue that censure has been imposed for violations including bribery, accepting improper gifts, personal use of campaign funds and sexual misconduct; none is present in his case.
The ethics committee, in explaining its recommendation, agreed in a report that the discipline usually is reserved for lawmakers who enrich themselves. In Rangel’s case, the committee said, its decision was based on “the cumulative nature of the violations and not any direct personal financial gain.”
He should just go away.