Thursday, December 02, 2010

House Votes To Censure Charlie Rangel For Ethics Violations

The House of Representatives voted 332 to 79 to censure Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) on Thursday for violations of the body's ethics laws.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) read the censure on the floor of the House immediately following the vote.

Today's vote brought an end to the investigation of the long serving New York Democrat, who was found to have violated 11 of the House ethics rules. The charges centered upon four issues: that Rangel used Congressional resources to raise money for an educational center bearing his name; that he failed to report taxable income on a rental villa in the Dominican Republic; the he filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms; and that he used a rent-controlled apartment in Harlem as a campaign office.

Several members from both parties spoke in support changing the punishment from censure to reprimand (For more on how these punishments have played out in the past, see here.)

And Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), a member of the ethics committee, proposed a motion to lessen the sanction from censure to reprimand that ultimately failed by a vote of 146-267. It had the support of 143 Democrats and three Republicans: Reps. Pete King (NY), Ron Paul (TX) and Don Young (AK).

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) argued that the whatever sanction was levied against Rangel should be consistent with precedent. "He knows he messed up," Scott said. Censure would be "singularly harsh and unfair and without precedent."

King also spoke in support of reducing the punishment to a reprimand, but upped the ante on the rhetoric. Censure is to a reprimand as the death penalty is to prison, King said, while noting that he and Rangel "disagree on virtually every issue."

A sad end to a long career.

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