The ethics trial of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) came to an unexpected halt Monday as Rangel requested more time to hire lawyers to represent him.
The New York lawmaker threatened to boycott the proceedings unless he is given additional time to hire a new attorney. The ethics subcommittee conducting the trial agreed to consider the motion in an executive session shortly after the hearing began Monday in the Longworth House Office Building.
Rangel accused the panel of refusing his private requests to delay the hearing after he split from his attorney in late September, stating that ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) based the decision to proceed on a desire to finish the matter before the end of the 111th Congress.
“I would want you to know that I don’t think it’s fair that I participate in any type of proceeding if in fact what you are basically telling me that the political calendar will not allow you enough time to allow me to get a lawyer at this crucial time in my life,” Rangel said. “Fifty years of public service is on the line. I truly believe I am not being treated fairly. ... I am entitled to a lawyer in this proceeding.”
An ethics investigative subcommittee charged the senior lawmaker in July with 13 counts of wrongdoing, including allegations that he misused federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, used a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office, failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms.
Rangel has already spent $2 million in legal fees over the two years the case has dragged on, but he split with his attorneys last month.
According to Rangel, the committee’s attorneys have prepared a “motion for summary judgment” against him that the panel was expected to debate Monday.
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.