But even if Rangel is technically able to seek that post, his reputation could continue to be clouded from such a public shaming.
“The issue about his viability as a candidate for Ways and Means isn’t going to turn on what the [ethics] committee decides or the House decides. It’s a political calculus that the Caucus is going to have to deal with,” said Stefan Passantino, a former Republican House aide who is now head of the political law team at McKenna Long & Aldridge.
Rangel was found guilty of misusing federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, using a rent-stabilized apartment as his campaign office, failing to pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic and filing inaccurate financial disclosure forms.
But Tiefer suggested that Rangel could argue his recent re-election to a 21st term grants him a clean slate in the next Congress.
“Every Member of the House who was in the 111th Congress and was re-elected to the 112th Congress has gone before his constituents and [Rangel’s] constituents have decided how they see the charges,” Tiefer said. “To punish him in another Congress is to put an unfair burden on those constituents.”
“The act of election is a cleansing process in a democracy. That cleansing decision on the voters’ part should be respected,” he added.
When the ethics committee meets today, Rangel and Blake Chisam — the panel’s chief counsel, who acted as a prosecutor during the adjudicatory hearing — will each be allowed 30 minutes for oral arguments in favor of their requests.
If the ethics committee votes to punish Rangel via reprimand, censure or expulsion, the committee must then 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.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.