A House investigative panel announced Thursday a finding that Rep. Charles Rangel has violated congressional ethics rules. The details will be announced at an adjudicatory subcommittee hearing on July 29. Rangel could be tried publically by the panel, which hasn’t happened since 2002 when Rep. James Traficant was expelled from Congress because of a corruption conviction.
“I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in the media,” the New York congressman said in response to the panel’s announcement. ”I will be glad to respond to the allegations at such time as the Ethics Committee makes them public.”
But Rangel was not nearly so upbeat Thursday afternoon when a reporter asked him whether he might lose his job over this, telling him it was a “dumb” question. The 80-year-old lawmaker, who has spent 40 years in Congress, was forced in March to give up his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee because he violated gift regulations by taking two trips to the Caribbean that were paid for by corporate sponsors.
Rangel has been under investigation since 2008. The accusations include accepting four rent-stabilized apartments at a below-market rate; preserving a tax loophole that would benefit an oil company executive who had pledged $1 million to the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York; and nonpayment of his own taxes.
The adjudicatory subcommittee, which includes fellow Congressional Black Caucus member G.K Butterfield (D-North Carolina), will determine whether the alleged violations are substantiated and then report to the full committee, which will decide his punishment. Sanctions can range from a damaging committee report to censure by the House and even expulsion, according to the Associated Press.