- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The full House Ethics Committee will meet Thursday to determine the punishment for New York Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel, who was found guilty Tuesday of 11 counts of violating congressional financial reporting and fund-raising rules.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who chairs the panel, announced Wednesday that the hearing date, with both Mr. Rangel and the committee’s chief investigator having 30 minutes to present their case before a punishment is recommended to the full House of Representatives for action.

Mr. Rangel has denounced the verdict and the process, after walking out of a hearing Monday to consider the evidence against him. After dismissing his previous legal team just a month ago, Mr. Rangel told the panel he did have the time or the funds to hire new legal representation.

The case has been a major blow to one of the Hill’s most powerful black lawmakers, a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who has represented his Harlem district for 40 years.

In settlement talks earlier this year, the panel reportedly was set to recommend a formal reprimand of Mr. Rangel but not call for his expulsion from the House. Mr. Rangel easily won re-election to another two-year term Nov. 2.

The government ethics watchdog group CREW Tuesday said Mr. Rangel should resign, and House Republicans have used the case — and a second pending case against another prominent Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California — to a deride promises by outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “drain the swamp” of corruption on Capitol Hill.

The case is the first public ethics hearing against a sitting House member since Ohio Democratic Rep. James Traficant was expelled after being convicted of corruption.