For two years, the House Ethics Committee has been investigating Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat who used to chair the House Ways and Means Committee. They formally revealed their charges against him earlier this year, and with as much bluster as he could manage, Rangel defiantly decided to fight them rather than leave and move to one of his expensive villas in the Dominican Republic. The Democratic leadership was fearful that it might lose its majority if it permitted the trial to occur prior to the election, so they set it up for the lame duck session.
So, here we are. The ethics trial will begin tomorrow. He had hired a high priced legal team to represent him, but late last month fired them. Instead, he will act as his own defense attorney, apparently to test the adage that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client.
As we recall, Rangel faces 13 separate charges, including hiding assets on financial disclosure forms, receiving 4 different rent-controlled apartments in New York City by misrepresenting himself, failing to pay taxes on the previously mentioned Dominican villas and using his office as Chair of the tax-writing committee to pressure corporations to donate to the Rangel Center for Public Service at CCNY.
This week, the subcommittee will meet to determine if the allegations have merit, and then will vote on whether evidence exists to send their findings to the full Ethics Committee. Then, the full Ethics Committee will vote on the charges and will submit a report to the House of Representatives, along with its recommendations. Then, the House will meet and determine what to do with him. The final result is expected later this millennium. Following the committee resolution of Rangel’s charges, they will begin determining the fate of fellow Democrat, Maxine Waters, who is also awaiting a hearing.
In a not particularly shocking election, Rangel easily won re-election this month, receiving 80% of the vote against his token Republican opponent. He is expected to continue winning this seat for the next 40 or 50 years.