Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rangel Convicted On 12 of 13 Ethics Charges

As the Ethics Panel was saying yesterday, the facts were not in dispute. Rep. Charles Rangel, the Harlem Democrat was found guilty on 12 of 13 ethics charges by the Ethics Panel.

The question remains whether the Panel will take it upon itself to administer a slap on the wrist or drain the swamp by calling for his expulsion from Congress.

Frankly, it should not have come to expulsion - his constituents should have voted him out of office but Rangel's political apparatus in Harlem got out the vote in the primaries and staved off his opponent in overwhelming fashion. His constituents didn't seem to mind or care about Rangel's malfeasance, and that speaks volumes. They didn't mind Rangel's actions so long as he brought home the bacon to his district.

Yet, Rangel repeatedly broke the law and ethics rules. He needs to suffer the consequences of his actions and a slap on the wrist is insufficient.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about the number of charges against Rangel and here's the rundown. Rangel was found guilty of all but one of the original 13 charges against him. The panel rolled two of the charges into one count because they were so similar. Thus, the 12 of 13 counts. Here is the full breakdown:
The panel could not reach a verdict on one count, Count 3, alleging that Mr. Rangel violated House gift rules by accepting contributions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at City College of New York.

But it convicted him of all the other counts. They are:

* Count 1: Violating solicitation and gift ban: Soliciting donations and other things of value on behalf of the Rangel Center from persons or entities with business before him or his Ways and Means Committee.

* Count 2: Violating code of ethics for government service: Accepting benefits under circumstances that could be construed as influencing the performance of his governmental duties, with respect to soliciting donations and other things of value on behalf of the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Policy at City College of New York.

* Counts 4 and 5, merged into one count: Violating postal service laws and franking commission regulations: Mr. Rangel was accused of using his franking privileges for the benefit of a charitable organization and for solicitation of funds.

* Count 6: Violating House Office Building Commission regulations. Mr. Rangel and his staff drafted solicitation letters on House property.

* Count 7: Violation of the Purpose Law and the Member’s Congressional Handbook: Mr. Rangel used House employees and other official House resources for work related to the Rangel Center and used his Congress member’s allowance to pay expenses related to the Rangel Center.

* Count 8: Violation of letterhead rule: Mr. Rangel sent letters related to the Rangel Center on House letterhead.

* Count 9: Violating Ethics in Government Act and House Rule 26: Mr. Rangel submitted incomplete and inaccurate financial disclosure statements, and failed to report or erroneously reported items he was required to disclose under the Ethics in Government Act from 1998 through 2008. In particular, Mr. Rangel amended certain financial disclosure statements only after a House committee began investigating his reporting of income from his Dominican villa.

* Count 10: Violating code of ethics for government service: Mr. Rangel leased a rent-stabilized apartment on Lenox Terrace in Harlem for residential use only, but was allowed by the landlord, a developer whom Mr. Rangel dealt with in his Congressional capacity, to use the apartment as office space for his campaign committee. The arrangement could be construed as influencing the performance of Mr. Rangel’s official duties.

* Count 11: Violating the Code of Ethics for Government Service: Mr. Rangel violated the code by failing to report rental income on his Dominican villa.

* Count 12: Violating the letter and spirit of House Rules listed above.

* Count 13: Conduct reflecting discreditably on the House: Mr. Rangel’s improper solicitations and acceptance of donations for the Rangel Center; his misuse of House staff, letterhead and franking privilege for the Rangel Center solicitations; his failure to file full financial disclosure statement; his failure to report the rental income on his Dominican villa; and his use of his rent-controlled residential apartment for his campaign office all brought discredit to the House.

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