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Rangel Fights For His Reputation
Monday, Nov. 15, 2010
For the 40 years Charles Rangel has served in Congress, he has made and lost friends. He's seen victory and defeat. This week those experiences will provide a theatrical backdrop for his weeklong "trial" before the House Ethics Committee.
The sometimes brash New York legislator is facing 13 ethics charges, and will have to answer tough questions about the millions of dollars that have poured into the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at The City College of New York.
The committee will also look at his failure to disclose all his assets, violations involving apartments in Harlem, and failure to pay income taxes on a vacation home.
In his most powerful days, the Democrat chaired the House Ways and Means Committee. Now he is a defendant appearing before a bi-partisan "adjudicatory subcommittee" of the House ethics committee.
Hoping to avoid such a trial, Rangel agreed to some of the charges this summer, but the "settlement document" will not have an impact on the trial. A staggering 28,000 pages of documents have been assembled over the two years the charges have been investigated.
The tenor of these proceedings may provide a hint of what will come at the end of the month, when California Representative Maxine Waters will have to account for her conduct in office.
This won't be the most pleasant post-election transition in Washington, and the ethics trials only add to the drama. But it is absolutely necessary that charges of illegal and unethical behavior by public officials be openly addressed, no matter how painful that may be.
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