The investigation is over and the arguments have been made. Today came the suggested penalty.
For having "brought discredit" upon Congress, for financial misconduct, for violating 11 House rules, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) should be censured.
That was the recommendation from Blake Chisam, the chief counsel for the special House ethics panel that has been digging into Rangel's business activities for more than two years. The full ethics committee then has to decide whether to accept Chisam's verdict, and then it goes to the full House of Representatives. A majority vote is needed to agree
No one expected the panel to arrive at the harshest penalty, expulsion; that has only happened twice since the Civil War. But the "betting" was that a reprimand, if not a rebuke (milder forms of punishment) would be exacted. Not censure.
The 80-year old Rangel, much of his bombast from his truncated Monday appearance before the panel no longer on display, asked for a "drop of fairness and mercy." He even brought in Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to vouch for his character, not to mention his 40 years in Congress.
To no avail.
The last members of the House to be censured were Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and Dan Crane (R-Ill.), who were punished in 1983 for sexual misconduct with underage congressional pages. Crane was defeated for re-election in 1984; Studds continued to win until he retired in 1996.