Rep. Charles Rangel: House Panel Chooses Censure, Restitution


"I leave the sanction to all of you," he said. "But there's no way to stretch this that I'm a corrupted individual... There's no excuse for my behavior and there was no intent for me ever to go beyond what was given to me as a salary. I never attempted to enrich myself. And I walk away no matter what your decision, grateful that I had this opportunity to serve."

The political fallout from the sanction against Rangel may not be as intense as expected, since Republicans are preoccupied with taking control of the House in the next Congress, and Democrats are hoping to put the embarrassment behind them.

Still, the sanction will undoubtedly be a stain on the record of a man who has served in the House for 40 years and was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee in March.

Rangel has contested the entire proceeding, saying it violated his right to due process, because the committee would not further delay the trial so that he could explore the creation of a legal defense fund to pay his bills.

He stormed out of the proceeding on the first day, saying he couldn't afford an attorney to represent him, even though the committee chairwoman Lofgren said he had had ample time to explore representation.

Later, Rangel released a statement calling the committee's verdict "unprecedented in view of the fact that they arrived at without rebuttal or counter evidence on my behalf."

"It's all very sad," said Melanie Sloan, Executive director of the of the public interest group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "Somebody who was previously highly respected and beloved has allowed his name to be dragged through the mud."

Rangel, a man who calls himself the "son of Harlem," will now have a footnote to his storied career mentioning the punishment.

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