- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A House panel Tuesday found New York Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel guilty of 11 of 13 ethics violations, a stunning rebuke to one of Capitol Hill’s most powerful black lawmakers.

The findings by an investigative panel of the House Committee on the Standards of Official Conduct came just a day after Mr. Rangel, a 20-term incumbent and former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, walked out of a hearing into the charges, condemning the process and saying he lacked the money to hire an attorney to defend himself.

The full ethics committee, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, now will conduct a hearing to determine the appropriate punishment for the 80-year-old Harlem lawmaker.

The charges related to financial reporting and fund-raising violations of House ethics rules. Meeting in private over the past two days, the panel concluded that the New York lawmaker was guilty of breaking ethics rules on the use of congressional staff and stationery, as well failing to disclose his assets accurately and improperly using a rent-stabilized residential apartment as a campaign office.

“We have tried to act with fairness led only by the facts and the law, and I believe that we have accomplished that mission,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who chairs the ethics committee.

Mr. Rangel had previously conceded he had made errors and was guilty of sloppy bookkeeping, but denied wrongdoing. He declined to comment when confronted by reporters in a House office building hallway after the verdict was announced.

The ethics panel had earlier floated the possibility of a formal reprimand — but not expulsion — as an appropriate punishment. It is not clear whether Mr. Rangel’s refusal to cooperate with the investigative hearing or to offer a defense would affect the level of his punishment.

Mr. Rangel won easy re-election to a 21st term in the Nov. 2 midterm vote, and has resisted past pressure from fellow Democrats to resign his seat.

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