Rangel to Stand Trial: Can He Still Fall Gracefully?

The Harlem lion's alleged ethics violations go public

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After a last-minute settlement fell through, the House ethics committee has unveiled charges against Rep. Charlie Rangel for a series of ethics violations. The charges include wrongly accepting rent-stabilized Manhattan apartments and preserving a tax loophole for an oil executive who helped finance an education center being constructed in Rangel's honor. The development is embarrassing for Democrats who had hoped Rangel would spare them a public trial.

  • This Is Extraordinary, writes David Kocieniewski at The New York Times: "The fact that the case has gotten this far is a remarkable event for the secretive ethics committee. The last time the House held a public trial of a member was in 2002, after Representative James Traficant, Democrat of Ohio, had been convicted criminally of accepting bribes. Mr. Traficant was expelled from Congress and served a prison term."
  • This Will Further Isolate Him, writes The Washington Post: "One of the five longest-serving lawmakers in the House, Rangel -- who co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 -- has gone from a beloved figure in his caucus to a political pariah in less than two years. The investigative subcommittee probed allegations -- at Rangel's request after published reports -- that he inappropriately lived in rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; did not pay taxes properly on a villa in the Dominican Republic; shielded hundreds of thousands dollars in personal assets by not properly disclosing them on his annual forms; and used his congressional office to raise money for the wing of a New York college named after him."
  • Don't Go All Sherrod on Rangel, implores Lanny Davis at The Hill: "I believe Rangel is an honorable man. If everyone can just take a breath, as they weren't willing to do for Shirley Sherrod, and give this good and kind man a chance to defend himself based on the facts, then I am confident his fair-minded House colleagues, Democratic and Republican -- meaning most members of the House from both parties -- will find a way to resolve this matter in an honorable way for everyone."
  • What a Dreadful Comparison! exclaims Jonathan Chait at The New Republic: "The House subcommittee spent 18 months reviewing the evidence before officially filing charges against Rangel, which is about 17 months and 29 days longer than anyone spent judging Shirley Sherrod's case. And unlike Sherrod, Rangel has already been 'admonished' by the same committee and lost his chairmanship over a previous ethics violation. Other than that, great comparison!"
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