Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) makes an opening statement during his House… (Chip Somodevilla, Getty…)
WASHINGTON — A congressional panel has found New York Rep. Charles Rangel guilty of 11 violations of House ethics rules and now will consider sanctions of the Democrat that could range from formal reprimand to expulsion from Congress.
Rangel had been charged with 13 rules violations, including failing to declare rental income from a Dominican villa, improper solicitation of donations on congressional letterhead and misuse of a rent-controlled apartment as a campaign office. Two of the violations were combined. The panel failed to find sufficient evidence on the remaining charge.
"This has been a difficult assignment, time consuming, and we have approached our duties diligently," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who led the special adjudicatory subcommittee that was hearing the case. "We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and law, and I believe we have accomplished that."
Now that the adjudicatory subcommittee has found Rangel guilty, the full 10-member Ethics Committee will recommend what sanctions to level against the 80-year-old Rangel. An expulsion is considered unlikely, but the committee could decide Rangel should be reprimanded or censured, measures that would require a full vote by the House.
The verdict came after a rare ethics hearing on Monday, the first of its kind since 2002. The chief legal counsel for the House ethics committee, Blake Chisam, presented the evidence against Rangel.
Rangel, who has represented his Harlem district for 20 terms, walked out of the hearing without mounting a defense. He argued that because he could no longer afford legal representation, the panel should delay the proceedings. But the panel moved ahead, responding that they had given him adequate time and instructions to arrange for his defense.
Republicans swiftly reacted, calling the decision "the nail in the coffin of what Nancy Pelosi promised would be the 'most ethical Congress in history.' "
"The arrogance of power that defined the Democrats' reign over the House of Representatives was overwhelmingly rejected on Nov. 2, and today's ruling is further proof that the American people were right," said Ken Spain, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee.