August 10th, 2010
04:48 PM ET
12 years ago

Rangel challenges House to kick him out

Washington (CNN) - Veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel apologized on the House floor Tuesday for causing any embarrassment by violating chamber rules, but he insisted he is not corrupt and refused to resign.

In a sometimes rambling speech, the New York Democrat defiantly challenged the House ethics committee to move faster on holding a public hearing on the 13 counts of alleged violations against him.

He also challenged fellow House members of both parties to kick him out if they want to get rid of him.

"If it is the judgment of the people here that I should resign," then the ethics committee should expedite its consideration of the charges against him, Rangel said.

But "I am not going away. I am here."

Rangel blasted what he characterized as a politicized, partisan ethics investigation process.

"Somebody has to do more than wish I go away," he said. "I am not asking for leniency. I'm asking for exposure of the facts."

If you think I'm guilty of violating House rules, then "fire your best shot at getting rid of me through expulsion," said Rangel, a 20-term congressman running for re-election in his Harlem district.

House Republicans and some House Democrats have called for Rangel to resign because of the alleged ethics violations. With another ethics case pending against fellow House Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, Rangel is under pressure to ease the negative publicity of his case during the runup to congressional midterm elections in November.

Rangel acknowledged those sentiments, saying, "Heck, if I was you, I might want me to go away too." However, he made clear that only expulsion by the full House would get him to leave.

"Are you going to say that while there's no evidence that I took a nickel ... that I have to leave here?" he asked. "Do what you have to do."

On July 29, the House ethics committee accused Rangel of 13 violations of House rules involving alleged financial wrongdoing and harming the credibility of Congress.

Among other things, Rangel has been accused of using his influence to solicit donations for a college policy center bearing his name from corporate heads and others with business before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Rangel was chairman of the committee until he was forced to give up the leadership position this year because of the pending allegations.

Other charges involve alleged income tax and financial disclosure violations, as well as improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

An ethics committee trial of Rangel is still set to be held, most likely in September, barring a settlement between Rangel and the committee members.

Rangel said Tuesday that he wanted the ethics committee to announce a date for the trial hearing, instead of leaving him and the chamber on hold during campaigning for upcoming primary elections and the November midterm vote.

"I have to wait until after my primary to find about when the ethics committee intends to have a hearing," Rangel said of the New York primary vote on September 14. He later quipped: "I'm 80 years old. I don't want to die before the hearing."

Rangel also offered explanations for the ethics charges against him, characterizing them as mistakes and acknowledging violations of House rules but denying they amounted to corruption.

"It's not corrupt," he said of using House letterhead for approaching possible contributors to a university policy center in his name. "It may be stupid. It may be negligent, but it's not corrupt."

Regarding an accusation that he used a rent-controlled apartment as a campaign office, Rangel said he did nothing wrong but was "insensitive to the appearance of being treated differently."

"I plead guilty of not being sensitive," he said.

Rangel also said that he referred problems with tax issues to the ethics committee himself, saying it showed he never intended to hide anything.

Republicans say the cases of Rangel and Waters show that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has failed to live up to her vow to rid the House of corruption.

Ken Spain, the communications director of the National Republican Campaign Committee, said Pelosi's "most ethical Congress in history" had "has turned into a three-ring circus."

However, Rangel blamed partisan politics by Republican members of the ethics committee for the two-year investigation of his case, as well as the lack of a firm date for the trial hearing on his alleged violations.

He also said that the ranking Republican on the ethics subcommittee that would hold the trial hearing had already stated publicly that Rangel is corrupt.

"Isn't this historically the first time that it appears as though partisanship has entered the subcommittee?" Rangel said, later adding: "Who in the heck would want somebody who called you corrupt to be the ranking guy on the subcommittee to judge you?"

An expedited hearing is needed to reveal all the facts, rather than continued delay in hopes that Rangel would run out of money for lawyers or otherwise lose his resolve to fight the charges, he said.

"Don't let this happen to you," he said in advice to newer House members.

"Don't walk away as a convenience with no evidence against you."

He apologized "for any embarrassment I've caused," he said, but insisted he would retain his dignity despite the allegations.

"For God's sake, just don't believe that I don't have feelings, that I don't have pride," Rangel said, later adding: "You're not going to tell me to resign to make you feel comfortable."

Filed under: Charlie Rangel
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. You've Got To Be Kidding Me!

    Rangel must be one of those "professional Democrats" that Robert Gibbs was talking about.

    August 10, 2010 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Poston

    Evidently he has been ethically challenged so long that he is callous to that fact rules apply to him too. It would be funny if it were not so scary.

    August 10, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  3. oldnassau

    Rangel is continuing the initially honorable, eventually corrupt legacy of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., whose seat he won in 1971.

    August 10, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  4. big don

    All new yorkers need to get behind mr.rangel

    August 10, 2010 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  5. Augsbee

    Kick him out, we don't need this old school crooks and liars in government anymore.

    August 10, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. Bob

    Yep, more proof that most politicians should have been actors instead of running our country. They talk about everything except the issues, income tax evasion, ethics etc.

    August 10, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. DC Johnny

    Victim of GOP Taliban wins with his typical Liberal loudmouth response that Rangel is no worse than half a dozen GOP loser criminals.

    Guess what? The people of America are tired of using "they were just as bad" as an excuse for poor performance and lack of achievements. It's time to vote out the bums who use this mentality as a crutch. King Obama is the most obvious offender. Own up to your failures and deliver or get out of the way, losers.

    If Rangel is just like Bush, Ensign, Cheney, et al, then he should be removed from office just as they should have.

    August 10, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Albo58

    Charlie Rangel will NOT go softly into that goodnight because he has No shame and his party's leadership has no spine! As a public official, Rangel knows well that ANY ethical violations, say o/a 13 counts, are totally unacceptable. Obviously, he is banking (no pun intended!) on his party's leadership to give him a pass so he will grandstand until that day comes. Bottom line: Rangel, as well as a lot of others in Congress, would never be so entrenched if we had term limits and that concept should be on the next national ballot!

    August 10, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Dennis1020

    Be careful what you ask for Congressman Rangel, you may get it.

    August 10, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. Byron

    ... When Bush/Cheney lied about Iraq at the cost of lives and a ton of taxpayer $. Ensign, Cunningham, Vitter, Craig, Foley, Stephens, DeLay, Ney, Libby...who else did I miss? Ney and Cunnigham went to jail btw. Have a nice day!...i

    ...This guy served his country honorably in wartime, which is more than people like Gingrich, Cheney, and GW Bush...

    I can't wait to see who these boorish, like-minded louts try to blame in a few years.

    August 10, 2010 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  11. the real ib

    Plain and simple; if he was a conservative he would have been out a long time ago as well as he should be and he should be now but the demos keep making excuses for him. Disgusting.

    August 10, 2010 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. BJ

    The unfortunate thing is that the spineless Democrats do not stick together, they are afraid of everything. When Obama won some of them rode in on his coat tale. Now the are hiding out and refusing to force their cohorts to support their agenda. I doubt if they back Rangel. The handwriting is on the wall, Republicans stick together. They steal elections, the rig votes, the rip off money and a lot more but who is going to snitch on them.

    It doesn't matter what the witch hunt reveals- Harlem will vote him back into office. You can take that to the bank.

    August 10, 2010 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  13. normajean

    Wouldn' t it be nice if Charlie Rangel had the dignity to resign and save his friends,family and party the embarressment of having him dumped?He is certainly not the first politician in the last couple of years who have openly disgraced themselves and those close to them and the others haven't had the grace to quietly fade out either. Not a lot of pride showing in any of them. Certainly not a lot of integrity either.Too bad!

    August 10, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  14. joe

    Hope they do put him on trail immediately. Then they will ask him to resign. The arrogance of this man... He needs to be canned.

    August 10, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. Jeff Spangler

    Go ahead Congress, take this arrogant and ignorant black crook up on his challenge to expel him. Ditto for Maxine Waters.

    August 10, 2010 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  16. usualone

    Why does he want to create more grief for his Party? Please go away quietly. He had a good run.

    August 10, 2010 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. wmscot

    Charlie get the hell out and take Maxine with you. You are one of the biggest stains on the Democatic Party. If you want to help us out get the speaker of the house to go with you !

    August 10, 2010 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  18. David

    Another "I am not a crook" moment in American political history....

    August 10, 2010 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  19. all the news that's fit to omit

    Lucas, let me school you a bit, I served 6 years, how about your hero Oweblamo.

    My bad, he thought about it, but voted present and for the record genius, Bush did serve.

    Rangel messed up and PELOSI and company are the ones that have moved this along at a snails pace and it has nothing to do with Republicans, NOTHING.

    Palin left office because of all the Democrats BS cases against her and they WENT away when she resigned from her position....

    Sorry Lucas, thems be da fax.

    August 10, 2010 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  20. malabar

    I challenge Rangel to trim that hair and eat less than 50,000 calrories a day. btw, y do people complain about insignificant Palin and how they dont wana waste time on her while including her in comments that have nothing to do with her? i'm starting to thnk some of these supposed haters in fact work for her, just keeping her name out there, ginning up controversy 4 publicity

    August 10, 2010 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. Donald

    Lol, i like rangle. He is right, if they got soooo much evidence they should bring it. if this was palin she'd done been quit, lol

    August 11, 2010 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
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