House panel recommends censure for Charlie Rangel

Charlie Rangel

Charlie Rangel, after he was convicted of ethics violations, has been recommended for a Congressional Censure. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Charlie Rangel was convicted by his peers of severe ethics violations, and a censure has been recommended. Censure is the sternest of reprimands in Congress. He may be the first Congressman to be censured in some time.

Rangel recommended to receive a censure

Not long ago, Charlie Rangel (D-NY) went on trial for committing ethics violations, by failing to pay taxes and improperly soliciting favors and donations. He took campaign contributions through improper channels, and did not pay taxes on income and property . Monday, Rangel stormed out of the trial, protesting that he didn’t have a lawyer, but he was convicted anyway, according to CBS. The committee held that he had adequate time to secure counsel. Congressman Rangel was found guilty of 11 of the 13 counts against him by the House Ethics committee. Rangel asked for “fairness and a drop of mercy” in the punishment recommendations. The chief counsel for the House ethics committee, Blake Chisam, recommended that Rangel be censured, which Rangel has argued is excessive.

Sternest punishment short of expulsion

A Congressional censure is the strongest punishment that can be handed down by Congress to an errant member, short of expulsion. A censure carries far more stigma than a reprimand and is practically a “scarlet letter” in the legislature. The procedure is rarely used, and to be censured is for a legislator to join infamous ranks. The last Representatives that received censures were Gerry Studds and Daniel B. Crane, according to Wikipedia. They were censured for their part in a 1983 sex scandal involving congressional pages. The last expulsion in the House was James Traficant (D-OH) in 2002, who was released from prison in 2009.

Blow for Democrats

Charlie Rangel is one of the longest serving House Democrats, and after the 2010 election results, the Democrats are already seen as on the ropes. This may not be the end of his tenure as a Congressman, but it certainly doesn’t do him any favors. Rangel may escape censure, but a reprimand is all but assured.



Wikipedia on Congressional Censure

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