A House ethics subcommittee opted Monday to abbreviate Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D) ethics trial, declaring that no facts are in dispute, thereby dispensing with witnesses and public arguments. The subcommittee will now move directly to deliberations on whether the New York lawmaker violated the chamber’s rules.
Ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who also leads the adjudicatory subcommittee tasked with judging Rangel, reiterated that the subcommittee’s decision means only that the facts in the case are not in dispute.
“This ruling does not constitute a ruling that any of the 13 counts have been proved,” Lofgren said.
An ethics investigative subcommittee charged Rangel 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.
The adjudicatory subcommittee, composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, must now determine whether Rangel should be held responsible for any of those allegations.
The panel adjourned to executive session Monday afternoon, with no indication how long deliberations would last.
“We will return to public session for whatever discussion the committee deems appropriate,” Lofgren said.
If the adjudicatory panel determines Rangel in violation of any House rules, it will forward its findings to the full ethics committee. The ethics committee must then hold a public hearing to determine whether to sanction Rangel.
While the committee may opt to issue a “letter of reproval,” the panel would need to seek the approval of the House if it recommends a harsher punishment, including a reprimand, censure or expulsion from the chamber.
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.