Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), once one of the most powerful members of the House, was convicted Tuesday on 11 counts of violating House ethics rules and now faces punishment.
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 and nearly six hours of deliberations.
However, it appears Charlie will just get a slap on the wrist. This clown has been flouting his power for decades at the American people, heck, even his own constituents, and all he is going to get is a little checkmark next to his name. He should be expelled from the House and should face criminal charges. However, this is not likely:
"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, which ethics experts say will most likely be a reprimand or formal censure. The ethics committee Tuesday afternoon had yet to announce when the hearing would occur.
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 deny some of Rangel’s House privileges.
But Rangel, 80, is certainly not expected to lose his job. The silver-haired 20-term veteran, known for his gravelly voice, humor and sartorial splendor, is still beloved by many of his House colleagues. And in the lame-duck session, Democrats still hold the majority.
Either reprimand or formal censure carry no immediate, tangible consequence for Rangel, who easily won reelection this month, but the sweeping guilty verdict delivers a damaging blow to his reputation and 40-year political legacy.
Years of negative publicity and his drawn-out defense pushed the specter of the trial into the 2010 campaign season, angering House Democratic leaders and forcing some of Rangel's colleagues to return campaign contributions from him. Earlier this year, he was stripped of his powerful Ways and Means gavel after an initial investigation into a corporate-funded trip to the Caribbean concluded he should have known that his aides were trying to evade ethics rules.
This guy helped write the tax code and he cheated on his taxes? Where is the accountability? Where is the respect for the office of Congress critter? Oh wait, the Dems are still in charge. Integrity doesn't return til January. My bad.