Rep. Charles Rangel Convicted of Violating House Ethics Rules

Embattled New York Democrat 'deplores' ruling, says due process rights violated.

November 16, 2010, 9:17 AM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2010 — -- Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York was found guilty by members of the House ethics committee Tuesday, for multiple violations of house rules. Rangel was convicted for improperly fundraising for a community center in his name, failing to disclose more than a half million dollars in assets on financial disclosure forms, and failing to disclose financial arrangements for a villa at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic.

Rangel was found guilty on 11 of 13 charges against him.

The panel combined two charges surrounding Rangel's misuse of congressional franking privileges for personal use. They could not reach a conclusion on one count of whether Rangel inappropriately accepted gifts.

"We have approached our duties diligently. ... We have tried to act with fairness. ... We have tried to do the right thing," said committee chairwoman California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who delivered the verdict after six hours of closed-door deliberations.

Rangel was not present in the hearing room when the verdict was announced. The Harlem congressman walked out on the proceedings Monday after his request for a delay was denied.

On his way to a meeting of the House Democratic caucus, a downtrodden Rangel responded to reporters' questions saying, "I really haven't studied" the committee's decision.

He later issued a statement, saying he deplores the ruling of the committee.

"How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?" he said. "I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions."

"This unfair decision is the inevitable result of the Committee's insistence on moving forward despite the absence of any legal representation on my behalf," he said.

Rangel's legal team quit in October because he was unable to afford their nearly $2 million bill. He had sought more time to explore the creation of a legal defense fund to help hire a new legal team.

The Ethics Committee will now begin to consider the appropriate sanctions against him.

Possible sanctions range from expulsion -- considered highly unlikely -- to reprimand, censure or a monetary fine. According to House ethics rules, a reprimand is reserved for a "serious violation;" censure is for "more serious violations."

Committee Considers Sanctions Against Rangel

Legal experts believe that the committee will suggest either a censure or reprimand. Once the committee agrees on the sanction, it will vote to recommend the sanction to the full House for a vote.

If the House votes to censure Rangel, he will have to stand in the center of the House chamber, known as the well, to receive a verbal rebuke and reading of the censure resolution by the Speaker of the House.

"The political ignominy of being formally and publically admonished and deprecated by one's colleagues ... has lead some Members of Congress who face a potential censure, or other formal House discipline for certain misconduct to resign before any official recommendation or other action is taken," said Jack Maskell of the Congressional Research Service in a report. "Under normal circumstances party rules generally bar a censured member from chairmanship of committees and subcommittees."

If the House votes to reprimand Rangel, he will not have to appear to hear the sanction.

According to Maskell, " the resolution is merely adopted by a vote of the House with the member standing in his place, or is merely implemented by the adoption of the committee's report."

ABC News' Devin Dwyer and John Parkinson contributed to this report.