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Charlie Rangel walks out of ethics hearing


Complaining bitterly that he was denied the right to have an attorney present, an emotional Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) walked out of his highly publicized public ethics trial Monday morning, an unexpected twist in the ethics inquiry has tarnished Rangel’s four-decade congressional career.

The ethics panel, after an unexpected 40-minute private session, rejected Rangel’s request to delay the trial and went ahead anyway. The witness chair where Rangel was supposed to sit was empty, a dramatic sign of Rangel’s refusal to participate.

With Rangel gone – foregoing the 10 hours he was granted to defend himself – the committee moved very quickly through the case and spent just 80 minutes reviewing the allegations before retiring to decide whether it would approve a “motion for summary judgment.”

If that motion is approved the Rangel trial is esentially over, just several hours after beginning.

But it hasn’t been without fireworks. Rangel asked for more time to get a lawyer and then walked out. His request was later denied.

“The committee has decided not to continue this matter,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who is overseeing the trial, said in turning down Rangel’s demand for more time.

“We recognize that Mr. Rangel does not intend to participate. It is his right not to participate.”

Maybe it’s just me but something stinks here, and it’s not the Representative from Harlem.

What’s the urgency? Rangel was just reelected, and if he’s not afraid of the incoming GOP majority then why should the Ethics Committee care?

The worst thing that they can do to him (now or later) is expulsion. The outgoing and incoming Governors of New York are both Democrats, and Rangel’s seat won’t be going to a Republican if there is a special election.

Are they worried that a GOP-led Ethics Committee won’t be harsh enough?

66 Responses

  1. You can watch it live on C-Span

  2. Wow! Pretty much the 1st time I’ve ever disagreed with you. Rangel deserves everything he gets. He obviously has had plenty of time to retain an attorney and prepare a defense. This didn’t come out of left field. If me or you did all the things that this man has done throughout the years we’d most certainly would have already been in prison for a long time. The next time (it will be my first) that I get into trouble I hope that I can just walk out and not take any responsibility for my actions.

    • I am really not sure what he is charge with. Can you fill me in, the version for dummies and tell me how you know he is guilty?
      I too think something is strange though…I tend to think the democrats want to throw him under the bus before the republican majority can make a huge messy cass about this after january.

      • ummmm…case, not cass

      • Not properly accounting for income from rental properties out of the country. (Puerto Rico?)

        Using an “office” gratis.

        Getting his name on a building and some quid pro quo type stuff.

        They delayed the trial prior to the election for a reason, he won, so now it’s time to take his lumps. I too find it impossible for him to say he needs more time to find representation.

        Maxine Waters is probably next. (what did happen to her charges?)

    • I’m not talking guilt or innocence, I’m talking procedural fairness.

      These hearings are not the same as a criminal trial, but the equivalent of a preliminary hearing was held in July – just four months ago. Rangel and his attorneys parted ways last month.

      In a criminal case a judge would be abusing his discretion to force Rangel to go to trial without at least one continuance on facts like these.

      If the case against him is so solid why wouldn’t the committee bend over backwards to ensure that there is no perception of unfairness?

      BTW – It is unprecedented for a powerful committee chairman to be taken down by his own party like this. There is more here than meets the eye.

      • Maybe more corruption than meets they eye?

        I still think the man had plenty of time to get his legal affairs in order. Parting ways with your attorney cannot be used as a defense against wrong doing. And like you correctly pointed out this isn’t exactly a criminal trial. We are all bound by laws and rules and Rangel is bound by the rules of the institution. He doesn’t get to make up his own rules as he goes along.

        • It’s not grounds for a dismissal, but it is grounds for a continuance.

          In the legal world four months from prelim to trial is the blink of an eye.

  3. You are forgetting what Committee Rangel heads.
    It’s Ways and Means. There is no more powerful committee or committee chairman. That committee is in charge of funding and taxation and includes the same for:
    Social Security
    Child Support

    Something BIG, BAD and NASTY is about to happen in the lame duck session. Otherwise, why not just wait until the new Congress is sworn in?

    Someone has been gunning for Charlie Rangel for the past couple of years. No one is immune to ethics charges. We saw Hillary get slammed over and over again when she was first lady. The Republicans sure did their damndest to make her look guilty of something but she was as clean as a whistle.

    And then there was Massa. He looked like he was a guaranteed hold out on the healthcare reform bill. So he was taken down in the most vicious and cruel manner possible.

    I smell something really, really bad coming. And the bastards are going to do it when they think no one is looking.

    So, who is next in line behind Rangel before January? And who does he/she serve?

    • He’s also in charge of (Congressionally) the IRS.

      Which organization he defrauded by not reporting income for several years.

      If you had done that, you’d be in jail.

      • If Congress critters were really interested in ethics, they’d give themselves the boot. They’re mostly all a bunch of crooks feeding off the public trough. This is not about Rangel. This is about destroying Social Security and the other programs RD mentioned. Rangel is in the way so he’s got to go.

      • I think people are innocent until proven guilty and they have the right to have attorneys.
        Not sayin’ he is or isn’t a tax cheat. But somehow I doubt that Rangel is the only one guilty of these kinds of excesses, if he is guilty.
        But one thing is for sure, Rangel has had someone on his ass since the day he became chairman of Ways and Means.
        There’s a reason for that. We should find out what it is.

        • Rangel and Waters are two of the most powerful black politicians in the country and they come under attack – by Democrats?

          How many other Democratic (or Republican for that matter) congresspeople are getting the same treatment?

          I would expect the Democrats to be trying to sweep stuff under the rug, not act like Ken Starr.

      • He’s also in charge of (Congressionally) the IRS.
        Which organization he defrauded by not reporting income for several years.If you had done that, you’d be in jail.

        Or running the Treasury department.
        I know an IRS agent who was particularly peeved that her boss was a violator. She said if he worked for the IRS when he did that, he’d be out of a job toot sweet for violating an oath he takes at the time of service.

      • Unless you’re Tim Geithner. Then you get put in charge of the IRS after failing to file taxes. So, yes, this is a case where the famous, in-crowd people would normally be left alone but for some reason, Rangel is in the cross-hairs over it.

        Normal people rules don’t apply in cases like this.

        • …famous, in-crowd people would normally be left alone but for some reason, Rangel is in the cross-hairs over it.

          Good point, especially since IIRC his tax delinquency amounted to a whopping $10,000 or thereabouts–so piddly for someone who plays at his level that I wonder if it really was an oversight, or an inept accountant–something along those lines?

          In any case it’s obvious that there’s way more going on here than we’re ever going to be told about. Something wicked indeed, RD.

    • Bingo. Rangel would fight to leave Social Security (and all the other programs you list) as is. I keep saying it: the fix is in.

      • what do you think the AA community would do if it looked like the party overlords were attacking the CBC to get rid of liberals who oppose their republican legislation?

      • I’m not sure that’s absolutely true. Rangel is liberal but so is Sander Levin, the guy who replaced him as chair temporarily.

        OTOH, was Rangel a superdelegate for Clinton? And who did Sander Levin come out for?

        • Rangel is a unique powerhouse. Watch the Dems pick off the liberals one at a time.

          • People go up and down the power ladder all of the time. Memento Mori and all that.
            So, who is the new powerhouse?

    • do you think it is possible that democrats want to shove Rangle and Waters under the bus before the republican majority can make a federal case ouyt of their ethics issues?

      • What more could the Republicans do?

        The AG is still Eric Holder. The GOP can still ask for a special prosecutor in January even if Rangel and Waters are expelled now.

      • No. Rangel no longer represents the new Democratic Party. That’s why they – and by “they” I mean Obama and his minions – want him out. The Repubs are going to attack no matter what the Dems do.

        • well I know that the republicans are going to attack anyway, but why do democratic politicians have a problem figuring that out?

      • What would be the point? After January, neither Rangel or Waters is a threat to Republicans. There’s no reason to carry on with an ethics investigation. It’s only BEFORE the Republicans take office that Rangel has any power left.

    • Something nasty this way comes – dollars to donuts in
      a special Christmas Eve session. Can you say SS or
      Scrouge will do. Two Republican preznuts “selected”,
      back to back + no accountability = coup d’etat…… I
      said that right here two years ago.

      In my opinion that was the plan and it is not Brilliant…not.
      It is frigging criminal.

    • Isn’t it sad that the best hope we have is a hopelessly corrupt individual who made himself an easy target? To think that our entire government has been so thoroughly corrupted that Rangel is basically our only hope for it to actually do the right thing is majorly depressing. Maybe we not only deserve for the other shoe to finally drop but we need it to drop so that the American populace will wake up out of its stupor and we can start fixing our government and our country. What is the phrase? Things have got to get worse before they can get better. I always doubted the validity of that piece of wisdom but American’s need to get with the program.

      • Yes, if true, it is sad. But I see it as selective prosecution. Things are about to get a whole lot worse, too. For all of us workers. That’s my take.

      • He’s not active chairman. He stepped down while the charges were being investigated. Sander Levin is now chairman and he’s supposedly liberal.

        Actually, this may be part of the problem. Rangel is still seen as heading this committee actively. Democrats can’t have that perception right now. He has to step down to remove any perception of impropriety during the lame duck session.

        So, what is going on that we can’t see?

    • Maybe he opposes the deficit commission proposal or tax cuts for the wealthy, both areas that the administration has been cozying up to. For all his financial indiscretions, Rangel is not a Republican in drag.

  4. It seems very strange to me as well. Definitely revenge on someone’s part. Since its clear that the Dems main priority will be immigrant reform in the Lame Duck session, is he being booted for his views on that?

  5. Ok, I found this from August 2010: Ally to Rangel- Make Deal Now.
    It’s about James Clyburn telling Rangel to settle the ethics charges before they go to trial.
    James Clyburn was moved up to be roughly co-equal to Steny Hoyer yesterday. I took it as a signal that Hoyer and the Blue Dogs were losing influence.
    So, maybe this is Clyburn’s way of exercising his new influence and getting Rangel out of the way during the lame duck session. Force him out now before there is anything that sticks and distracts for whatever it is they’re going to get hit with.
    Something wicked this way comes.

    • So are you saying it’s a power struggle between Clyburn and Rangel? Clyburn is Obama’s man, no? I say, Obama wants Rangel out. Maybe there’s stuff to get Rangel on. But that’s not why Obama wants him out. Rangel doesn’t kowtow properly.

      • No, I am not saying there is a power struggle between Clyburn and Rangel. I don’t think they are competing for the same job.
        Clyburn has other responsibilities, specifically to keep Democrats in line for important votes. And note that his new position has put him on par with Steny Hoyer who has been the power behind the blue dog bloc. That bloc just reduced its size by half but they are still a very vocal minority. Displacing Hoyer wasn’t possible and there may be a price to be paid to getting them into line. The price may be Rangel’s head. Get him out of there, stop the ethics hearing in its track or let it come to a conclusion.
        So, it could be that Clyburn is the friend that is delivering the bad news to Rangel. He tried to get Rangel to settle in August when it became clear that Democrats would lose the house. Now, it looks like the situation is urgent.
        That’s all I see. We can only make conclusions on the facts and our observations. You can hypothesize that something important is going on behind the scenes that cannot wait until January. But that’s as far as it goes until something new comes out.

        • I hear you. Maybe Rangel did some terrible stuff that’s going to cause the Dems major grief, maybe not. Maybe Clyburn is just trying to help a friend, maybe not.

          I still can’t forget that Clyburn is an Obama man and Rangel isn’t. I smell something fishy, like you said “big, bad, and nasty.” Coming from the top.

          The sooner we find out the facts, the better.

          • I think Clyburn was simply another african american voter in 2008. I can’t hold it against african americans for voting the way they did. Their joy the next day was contagious.
            Yeah, he said some pretty boneheaded things about the Clintons that he shouldn’t have. But we might be wrong to assume that James Clyburn is in Obama’s pocket. Especially now that he’s shown himself to be even worse than an empty suit.

      • Obama said, that Rangel should end his career with

        Obama should do likewise in 2012.

  6. I think it’s House cleaning, Chicago style.

  7. Rumors have been swirling that Rep. D Issa will be heading
    investigations on O Admin and that the stench from Chicago will get pretty acrid..
    Should make for some fine viewing.

    • I hate to say this but I really hope they find something substantive for all the pain and misery they are about to put us and the White House through. You know, something that will show conclusively just how rotten the Obama Movement is and how they stole the nomination through cheating and bribery.
      Obama got the damn office he wanted and he squandered it. And we are all going to suffer for that. I didn’t want him to fail but to be honest, I never expected any other outcome. It was written in the wind when he took his name off the ballot in Michigan and won 59 delegates there anyway.

  8. Not properly accounting for income from rental properties out of the country. (Puerto Rico?)

    Using an “office” gratis.

    Getting his name on a building and some quid pro quo type stuff.


    • And paying his attorneys from his PAC, which is strictly forbidden in House Ethics Rules.

      When the attorneys found out last night that Rangel had paid him with PAC funds, they promptly quit.

      That’s why he didn’t have an attorney today.

      Just sayin.

      • I was under the impression that he and his attorneys parted company a couple months ago.
        A google search turns up articles saying his attorneys were spending money like a sailor in July and he had to let them go because he couldn’t pay them. He set up a legal defense fund, probably nothing illegal about that. The Clintons had one.
        Nuisance suits can bankrupt people. Jim McDermott in WA got tied up in one for years. Very painful and expensive.

      • A politician can use campaign money to defend himself when/if he commits a crime, but not PAC money.

        It’s like the penalties for crack vs powder, it depends on the user.

      • More on the story: Charles Rangel is absent, but ethics panel hears case.

        Did you know about Rangel’s lawyers charging him $2 million as of July 2010 and asking for a million more to help him fight this case? Even the members of the ethics committee were shocked by their poor representation and exorbitant fees.

        Congresspersons are forbidden by law to receive pro-bono representation. It is EXTREMELY unlikely that he used the money from a PAC if he was being investigated by the ethics committee.

        Please read more carefully.

        BTW, testimony against him today suggests that he was guilty of carelessness, not corruption. He will probably get reprimanded or censured for not keeping his paperwork tidy.

        $2 million in lawyer’s fees and the loss of his committee chairmanship is what he got for his trouble.

        That’s what we have to look forward to when the Republicans start their hearings and investigations. I hope Sasha and Malia have a trust fund because the Obama’s will probably have to get really good lawyers.

        • BTW, testimony against him today suggests that he was guilty of carelessness, not corruption. He will probably get reprimanded or censured for not keeping his paperwork tidy.

          That’s what I suggested upthread. IIRC his tax liability was a poxy $10,000, chump change for someone like Rangel, and much more suggestive of sloppy record keeping and/or an inept accountant than deliberate nonpayment.

          In fact all of his ethics violations seem pretty small potatoes to me, and I’ve suspected some big fat Chicago rats were behind this pretty much from the get-go. Charlie’s a real Democrat and we can’t be having that kind of behavior in O’s kingdom, now can we?

  9. The worst thing that they can do to him (now or later) is expulsion.

    No the worst thing they can do is to continue to turn a blind eye to his corruption and to enable his criminality. Remember ‘drain the swamp’?

  10. So, a little more investigation of Sander Levin’s voting record shows that he does not support limits on executive compensation for companies that receive TARP funds.
    And he also had a problem with:

    13, HR 3170. Fiscal 2010 Financial Services Appropriations/Passage. Passage of the bill that would provide $46.2 billion in fiscal 2010 for the Treasury Department, the Office of Personnel Management, the District of Columbia and other agencies. Passed 219-208: Jul. 16, 2009. A yes vote is a +.

    That’s from the 2009 Congressional Voting Record Inside from the Americans for Democratic Action. Rangel has a score of 100% as are all of the other members of Pelosi’s leadership team. Sander Levin is at 90%. So, I don’t know what’s going on with Ways and Means. I dunno. It’s all very strange.

  11. Ethics are ethics. We either demand them from all of them or we don’t. This has been put off enough. Do it. Enforce the regulations and move on. But, go after all of them. Rangel did have plenty of time to procure lawyers. This date was no surprise to anyone. I’m sick and tired of them enjoying their perks while breaking rules and laws. Every single one of them. Democrats and Republicans. The House cleaning has begun. Its just unfortunate that the newly elected get to stay in there 6 years. Too long in my book.

  12. And I will never forgive Clyburn for the race-baiting during the Primaries. He knew better. You betcha he did.

  13. Something is definitely fishy. I don’t think this is about the ethics at all. I hope Rangel is up for the fight, whatever it is really about.

  14. From the NYT article “House Panel Says Facts in Rangel Case are Undisputed:”

    “In an ominous sign for Rep Charles B Rangel, the House ethics committee on Monday said the facts presented by a prosecutor accusing Mr Rangel of violating Congressional rules were not in dispute and that the congressman himself had not refuted the charges…….

    Acting as a kind of prosecutor in the case, the committee’s chief counsel, R Blake Chisam, said Mr. Rangel had not contested most of the facts in the case even when he had a lawer defending him”

    More at NYTimes article for careful reading.

    • The NYT isn’t worth a careful read these days, IMO. They surrendered to the Dark Side a long time ago.

    • Try the LATimes. Much more informative on this issue Besides, just because Rangel broke House ethics rules does not mean he is guilty of some major IRS violation. His actions are probably no worse than Tim Geithner’s.
      It is unlikely that Rangel will be expelled. No, the action taken against him seems to have been designed to bedevil and distract when his leadership in the Ways and Means committee was crucial. His own party sidelined him. And let’s not forget that it was Steney Hoyer who was threatening to take Eric Massa’s indiscretions to the ethics committee. Massa resigned before that happened. He probably saw a costly legal battle ahead of him that he couldn’t afford. His reputation was smeared and he resigned under a cloud. Turns out Steny forgot all about the alleged ethics violations and never reported anything to the ethics committee.
      So, Hoyer is a bastard. He’s still powerful but not quite as powerful as he was two weeks ago.
      He’s the House version of Joe Lieberman. Pelosi must have been grinding her teeth for the past couple of years. Of course, she did give us Obama so she’s guilty of stupidity.

  15. ““Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”
    I was on a bus in a Kalamazoo road stop on the way back from canvassing in Wisconsin for Gene McCarthy when I saw this come up on the TV screen in a Big Boy, if memory serves….
    The high point in my political life, up to that moment. The real high point would come in Chicago at the Convention when I was McCarthy National Staff and dropped fishbones and ashtrays on the Chicago cops 15 floors below me in the Hilton Hotel. They came up a few hours later with a shovel holding the fishbones and broken ashtrays—-I was locked in my hotel room and slept through the whole affair. You can read about it in Making of the President, 1968, pp. 308-309…!

  16. Charlie Rangle claims that accepting a pro-bono attorney would violate the House Rules because it could be considered a gift? Do we consider supplying “Public Defenders” for the indigent, a gift? Is Charley Rangle hiding behind a sophist legal interpretation of the term “gift”, trying to put the ethics committee on hold long enough, hoping that the committee will eventually give up the investigation? Where are all the Black groups who should be coming up with defense money for Rangle? Could it be the Black-groups know that giving money to Rangle’s defense would be nothing more than pouring it down a rat-hole? Rangle is an excellent example of why we need term limits!

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