House Ethics Committee To Decide Rangel's Fate

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Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel has been found guilty of 11 violations of House rules. The ethics panel that considered the case found the evidence "clear and convincing." The full House ethics committee will hold a hearing on the punishment Rangel should face on Thursday.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

These are the days when the old Congress transacts its final business, and a new Congress tries to set an image.

INSKEEP: We'll hear signs of both in the next few minutes, starting with a dominant figure in the Democratic House. Congressman Charles Rangel chaired one of the most powerful House committees. Now, he's been found guilty of 11 ethics violations.

NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY: The Ethics Subcommittee returned its verdicts at noon yesterday. At noon tomorrow, the full committee meets to recommend punishment - a recommendation to be voted on, sooner or later, by the House. Rangel and the committee both pushed, at different times, to speed up the investigation. And the committee has had partisan tensions within its ranks. This week, Rangel boycotted two crucial meetings, saying he had spent $2 million on lawyers and couldn't afford another one. Ethics Committee members took up the evidence against him.

Here's Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, after delivering the verdict.

Representative ZOE LOFGREN (Democrat, California; House Ethics Committee Chair): We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law.

OVERBY: Rangel spoke with reporters later in the day. This audio is from crewof42.com, a blog that covers the Congressional Black Caucus.

Representative CHARLIE RANGEL (Democrat, New York): Due process has been shattered in order to complete the work this year. And I just don't think that anyone can think that that is fair.

OVERBY: The probe concluded that Rangel violated the House rules repeatedly, but not for personal financial gain. Among the offenses: using a rent-controlled apartment in Harlem as his campaign headquarters, and using his clout as Ways and Means chairman to solicit contributions for a proposed Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.

Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington.

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