After a House Ethics panel found him guilty of 11 ethics violations yesterday, Rep. Charles Rangel issued a statement calling the process, which was two years in the making, "unfair," noting, "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? 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."
Rangel had asked for a postponement, asking for time to find legal counsel (after spending about $2 million on fees, he and his legal team parted ways in September), but the panel said that evidence was enough and found him guilty of transgressions including not paying taxes and renting too many rent-stabilized apartments. Tomorrow, the entire House Ethics committee will decide what punishment he should receive, and then the full House will vote. According to the NY Times, "ethics experts and panel members have said that Mr. Rangel, 80, is more likely to face a reprimand or a formal censure."
There were some rallying calls: Mayor Bloomberg, who was in DC, said, "Charlie Rangel [is] a friend — I supported him; his constituents want him. Congress has got to do what it’s going to do. But Charlie Rangel did an awful lot for New York City, and we shouldn’t forget that." And Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson (and an Illinois lawmaker who faced some ethics questions himself), called Rangel "iconic... "But for his leadership over the last several decades in Congress, there would be no Barack Obama as president of the United States, and there would be no Jesse Jackson Jr. in the Congress of the United States. The unfortunate episode that has culminated in the House’s determination is a blemish on his career, but we must measure Charles Rangel by his years of service and his longevity, and by his earnestness and honesty, not by the shortcomings of this episode."
But one Harlem resident told the Post, "This is what makes people cynical about politicians. It's shameful. He definitely should resign -- if he has any respect for the office. Public officials should be held to a higher standard, not a lower standard. We try to make sure no one is above the law."