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Panel Now Must Decide Rangel’s Fate

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call

“The record is clear that Representative Rangel engaged in irresponsible conduct over the course of several years that resulted in numerous violations of House Rules and other applicable standards. Representative Rangel’s conduct was not, however corrupt or criminal, as explicitly and implicitly alleged in the Statement of Alleged Violation, and does not warrant a sanction of reprimand,” Scott argued.

Neither Green nor Scott still serves on the ethics committee, however, so neither will take part in the sanctions hearing.

Rob Walker, an attorney with Wiley Rein who served as a top aide to the House ethics panel when the committee last held a sanction hearing in 2002, noted that the committee will turn to its previous rulings when determining whether and how to punish Rangel’s transgressions.

“They’re not facing a situation here that precisely fits a situation the committee may have come up against the past,” Walker said. “They do have to be mindful of precedent in that regard. ... What is similar? What was done in those situations?”

Both ethics committee counsel — who acted as prosecutors during Rangel’s adjudicatory hearing — and Rangel will be allowed to make written or oral arguments to the ethics committee during the sanctions hearing in support of their requests.

A Rangel spokesman did not indicate Tuesday whether the New York lawmaker will attend his sanction hearing. Rangel made a brief appearance before the adjudicatory hearing Monday, but he boycotted the proceedings after the panel rejected his requests for a postponement.

Rangel had asked for the hearing to be delayed while he sought new legal counsel.

The senior Democrat, who has spent more than $2 million on legal fees since 2008 and claimed in August he could no longer afford representation, split with his defense attorney in October.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Rangel alleged that he had been denied due process in the adjudicatory proceedings because of his lack of counsel.

“How can anyone have confidence in the decision of the Ethics Subcommittee when I was deprived of due process rights, right to counsel and was not even in the room?” Rangel said in his statement. “I can only hope that the full Committee will treat me more fairly, and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions.”

Rangel’s Tuesday statement echoed some of the themes touched on by Scott, which may foreshadow the argument he might make before the full committee.

“The Committee’s findings are even more difficult to understand in view of yesterday’s declaration by the Committee’s chief counsel, Blake Chisam, that there was no evidence of corruption or personal gain in his findings,” Rangel said.

During the hearing, Chisam said: “I believe the Congressman, quite frankly, was overzealous in many of the things that he did and sloppy in his personal finances,” but not corrupt.

If the ethics committee does opt to punish Rangel via reprimand, censure or expulsion, the committee must issue a privileged report to the House, including a resolution on the proposed penalty. The resolution may brought to the floor at any time after the committee files its report.

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