Faced with a House vote that could result in his punishment next week, Rep. Charlie Rangel pleaded for compassion from fellow lawmakers in an e-mail Monday.
The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct voted last week to recommend censure after an ethics subcommittee panel ruled that the New York Democrat has repeatedly violated the chamber’s rules. The House is expected to vote on whether to approve the punishment when it returns from the Thanksgiving recess.
“On Thursday I stood before the Ethics Committee who recommended that I receive censure for violating the House rules. I apologize for the embarrassment I have brought upon you,” he said in an e-mail message issued by his re-election campaign. “I truly believe public officials have a higher responsibility than most Americans to obey the rules because we write them. There is no excuse for my acts of omission. All of this has been brought upon me as a result of my own mistakes.”
Rangel was found to have 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 villa in the Dominican Republic and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms.
During an ethics committee hearing Thursday to determine what penalty it would recommend, the Democrat made entreaties to the panel to emphasize that his actions had not been deemed “corrupt,” despite the fact that he broke the chamber’s rules.
In his e-mail Monday, Rangel re-emphasized his plea, stating: “There has never been any corruption or personal gain in my actions. ... Neither has there been any intent on my part to violate the House rules.”
In his e-mail, Rangel noted that the “final decision on sanctions” will be determined by the House vote.
If the House approves the censure, Rangel would become the sixth lawmaker to be censured since the ethics panel was established in 1967, and the first since 1983. When a Member is censured, that lawmaker must stand in the well of the House as the measure is read aloud by the Speaker.
The House could also vote to reduce Rangel’s punishment to a reprimand, which would require only an adoption of the resolution by the House and would not require Rangel to be directly admonished on the chamber floor.
Rangel did not make a direct appeal for that outcome, but he stated, “In the end, I hope that you would judge me on my entire record as a soldier and a dedicated public servant — not only by my mistakes.”
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.