Yesterday, the House Ethics panel voted, 9 to 1, that Rep. Charles Rangel should face formal censure for his ethics violations, including multiple rent-stabilized apartments, financial mishaps, and his work to solicit donations for a City College school named after him. Rangel was near tears and needed time to compose himself before speaking (see video below), "I don't know how much longer I have to live... I hope you can see your way clear to indicate any action taken by me was not with the intention of bringing any disgrace on the House or enriching myself personally."

The NY Times reports, "A censure would mark a momentous downfall for Mr. Rangel, a Democrat who for 40 years has represented Harlem, where he was born. As a decorated Korean War veteran and civil rights advocate, he became a combative and irrepressible voice for liberal causes and, in 2007, snared one of the most powerful positions in Congress, the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee." According to Politico, the "formal censure resolution...is essentially a public humiliation that will be carried out on the House floor... . The resolution condemning Rangel would also be read out loud, adding further ignominy for the once-powerful former Ways and Means Committee chairman."

This would be the first formal censure since 1983; censure is a tougher punishment than a reprimand but less severe than expulsion. The House Ethics counsel R. Blake Chisam said that Rangel's high stature in Congress prompted his recommendation of censure over reprimand.

Rangel pointed out his transgressions were not about personal gain, and indeed, Ethics panel chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren wrote, "Although prior Committee precedent for recommendation of censure involved many cases of direct financial gain, this Committee's recommendation for censure is based on the cumulative nature of the violations and not any direct personal financial gain," in the report. Rangel also wanted the panel's report to note he was found not guilty of corruption.