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Rangel has denied any intentional wrongdoing, although in an August speech on the House floor, he acknowledged he may have broken the chamber’s franking rules: “But it’s not corrupt. It may be stupid. It may be negligent. But it’s not corrupt.” He has also repaid the overdue taxes on the Dominican property.
In remarks to the adjudicatory panel Monday, Blake Chisam, the ethics committee’s staff director and chief counsel serving as the trial’s prosecutor, repeatedly showed video clips of Rangel’s August floor speech to emphasize the lawmaker’s guilt.
But in responding to questions from the adjudicatory subcommittee, Chisam also said, “I see no evidence of corruption.”
“I believe the Congressman, quite frankly, was overzealous in many of the things that he did and sloppy in his personal finances,” Chisam added.
Should the adjudicatory panel determine Rangel is at fault in any of the charges against him, the subcommittee will forward its findings to the full Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. The ethics committee will then hold a hearing to decide whether to sanction Rangel.
The ethics panel may opt to issue a “letter of reproval” on its own, but if the panel recommends a more severe punishment — including reprimand, censure or expulsion from the chamber — it would need to seek the approval of the House
The ethics committee admonished Rangel earlier this year for taking part in two Caribbean trips that violated House rules because the events received corporate funding.
The senior Democrat subsequently forfeited his chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee.