martes, 16 de noviembre de 2010
A House panel on Tuesday found Representative Charles B. Rangel guilty of 11 counts of ethical violations, ruling that his failure to pay taxes, improper solicitation of fund-raising donations and failure to accurately report his personal income had brought dishonor on the House.
After a public hearing Monday that was truncated by Mr. Rangel walking out in protest, an adjudicatory subcommittee of the House ethics committee deliberated for four hours before finding him guilty of all but one of the 13 counts against him.
(Two other counts, involving Mr. Rangel’s misuse of House franking privileges, were merged into one.)
In a somber tone, Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California, announced the panel’s findings just before noon. Ms. Lofgren described the contentious process as “difficult and time consuming” and said the committee hoped to decide on a punishment within days.
While the committee has the power to recommend expulsion, that is highly unlikely. Ethics experts and committee members have said that Mr. Rangel, 80, is more likely to face a letter of reprimand or a formal censure.
Mr. Rangel did not appear before the panel as it announced its verdict, but he released a statement shortly afterward, calling it unfair because he could no longer afford a lawyer to mount a defense. And, oddly, even though he was the one who stormed out of the proceedings Monday, he complained that the committee took action when he was not present.
“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?” the statement read. “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.” The committee’s verdict is a stinging rebuke for Mr. Rangel, who has represented Harlem for 40 years and was once one of the most imposing Democrats in Washington.
Since the accusations were first raised two years ago, Mr. Rangel has acknowledged book-keeping errors in his financial disclosure forms and has said that his failure to pay more than $60,000 in taxes on rental income from a Dominican beach house was an oversight caused, in part, by his inability to speak Spanish.
But he angrily denied accusations that he used his position to receive special treatment or misused his office as chairman of the Ways and Means committee to raise money for a City College school of public service being built in his honor.
The only charge the committee cleared him of was an accusation that his involvement with the effort to build the school, the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service, would constitute an improper gift because it would provide him with an office and archivist to oversee his papers after he retires.
The committee’s verdict is the culmination of a two-year investigation that began after new reports about Mr. Rangel accepting four rent-stabilized apartments at prices thousands of dollars per month below market value.
By DAVID KOCIENIEWSKI