August 11th, 2010
08:21 AM ET
11 years ago

Embattled Rangel holds birthday gala – but who's coming?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Rangel is holding a birthday gala in New York City Wednesday."]New York (CNN) - Embattled lawmaker Charlie Rangel, who is embroiled in an ethics investigation, celebrates his 80th birthday Wednesday - but the event may lack much of its promised luster.

The "birthday gala" is being held at The Plaza Hotel in New York City, a day after the 20-term congressman apologized on the House floor for causing any embarrassment by violating chamber rules.

In a video montage accompanying an invitation sent out to supporters late last month, former President Bill Clinton delivered his birthday wishes.

Clinton is not attending the party, saying he will be in Arkansas on Wednesday.

The video also touted a performance by the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin.

But the legendary soul singer is nursing fractured ribs and has had to reschedule two free concerts.

"I will really miss that nice slice of cake from Congressman Charlie Rangel's birthday party and singing 'Happy Birthday' to him," Franklin, 68, said in a statement.

A number of other high-profile New York Democrats have not confirmed they'll attend. Among those invited are New York Gov. David Paterson, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Charles Schumer.

Rangel is running for reelection. A minimum campaign contribution of $200 is required to attend the party as a "special guest." But the best seats will presumably be reserved for "sponsors" who donate $2,500.

The ethics investigation has already cost Rangel his position as the chairman of a powerful House committee. On Tuesday, he insisted he is not corrupt and said he will not 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, Rangel said.

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

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.

On Tuesday, Rangel 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.

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 (25 Responses)
  1. Crooks R Congress

    Maybe it will be a threesome with Rangel, Waters and Obama.

    August 11, 2010 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. MoJo

    Charlie Rangel is the best arguement yet for term limits. Make it 4 for Congress & 2 for the Senate. And make it 20 for the Supremes.

    August 11, 2010 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Alex

    Charlie Rangel is living proof why NOBODY should be permitted to serve more than 8 years in Congress. Party affiliation has ZERO to do with something that has been called "entitlements" that all these politicians seem to feel once they've been in Washington too long. "Too Long" is defined as "more than 8 years."

    August 11, 2010 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  4. rm

    Mr Rangel seems to be no angel, but his statements claiming that he is not the only corrupt politician rings all too true. Vote them all out.

    August 11, 2010 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. aneanderthal

    Liberals really just don't get it do they. Surprised Obozo and his wife won't spend thousand in taxpayer dollars to attend. They must be having some minor celebrity in the White House to bash Bush or perhaps he has to prepare some "slamming" speech against the Viagara maker for making the product so expensive that we needed another $26 billion to make it affordable for the NEA, like the Pelosi house did yesterday. Perhaps he will take over the company that makes Viagara, saving millions of jobs "for the children." Vice President hairplug can make a big announcent about how the Obozo administration has capped off this "summer of prosperity."

    August 11, 2010 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  6. Blaum

    Where is Jesse Jackson? So he could stand behind a lie-filled accusing black stripper at Duke...but he can't stand behind such an honest senator?

    Al Sharpton? Are you out there?

    Race card will be played in less than three days..... book it.

    August 11, 2010 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  7. JP

    Rangel said,"he would retain his dignity" Rangel has no dignity he is a criminal. He is the Marion Barry of the the house. Rangel is still getting a paycheck from our tax dollars if we did what he did we would be in jail.

    August 11, 2010 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  8. Independent In Albany

    It's all about Charlie, not the people.

    What a jerk

    August 11, 2010 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Augsbee

    He's probably got so much dirt on everyone in D.C. that he can comfortably say he's not going anywhere. He's as shameless, low as a person can be.

    August 11, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  10. JES

    You are soething else.

    I guess this party will have two reasons your birthday and going to jail.

    Good luck on the latter.

    August 11, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Keith in Austin

    I always respected Rangel for his service during the Korean war. I feel sorry for him now with what he has become due to greed. He is a true poster boy for Term Limits.

    August 11, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. Big George in Big D

    Boy, these crooks sure like the limelight! He doesn't even have enough dignity to hide his sorry face!

    August 11, 2010 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Eric

    Who's coming to (ax) "Cheatin' Charlie's" birthday bash?

    Turbo Tax Cheat Timmy Geithner, William "Cold Cash" Jefferson, The McDonalds Hamburglar, Blackbeard the Pirate, Wynona Rider, Bernie Madoff, John Dillinger, The Grinch, Charles Ponzi and the biggest ponzi-schemer of all time, FDR.

    Charlie, how would you like your prison cell... with or without buggery?

    August 11, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. Fair is Fair

    I'll tell you who's coming...

    The FBI, the IRS, several of new York's finest, and a strong pair of handcuffs. See ya in the perp walk, Charlie.

    August 11, 2010 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. violating chamber rules

    I'd go

    he is probably giving away a rent controlled apartment as a door prize

    there will be whores gallore

    live it up, Rangle style

    August 11, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. Unbelievable

    Time to go Charlie. In fact, overdue. Thanks for your service, but get on the bus and move out.

    August 11, 2010 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  17. jim

    If Charlie were a few years younger he could be mixing it up with the NBA stars shooting a few hoops on the weeends or playing a little golf like someone else that recently celebrated his birthday that was in the news!!!

    August 11, 2010 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. hypocricnnation

    I Hope That When The Media Starts Coming There And Thinking It's Invited (Entitled), I Hope Congressman Rangel Kicks Every One In The Media Out!

    August 11, 2010 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. Rush is a giant birthbag.

    Happy birthday.Sorry you were snagged in a rightwing witch hunt.They needed someone to take the eyes off all their airport toe wrestlers.

    August 11, 2010 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Blablabla

    Not me.

    August 11, 2010 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. Ron in california

    Even a nit wit could see throught Rangels rambling speech. Therefore, most in Congress should understand it was an effort to raise the stakes for the Dems in the upcoming elections and cut him a sweet deal. The sad fact is that he is a 40 yr congressman WHO should have known he was doing wrong. He has broken faith with his constituency and his colleagues and should go. So should maxine Waters and John Ensign. At some point a person has to recognize tha their position and responsibilities set a high standard for them.

    August 11, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  22. Justen in Florida

    note to the libtards who think it's the Republicans fault that this is comming up just before the elections..

    the ethics committee is divided equally between democrats and republicans, the republicans couldn't "force" anything in the house, they are in the minority.


    August 11, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. katiec

    I think Rangel truly believes he has done nothing wrong, and, we do not know the extent of his actions. He has been a dedicated representative of the American people.
    Regardless, due to the publicity, and as usual, he has been condemned regardless of proof of guilt, to maintain his dignity, he should step down, retire and enjoy his remaining years without stress.

    August 11, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  24. Jeff

    His future parole officer.

    August 11, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  25. vegage

    This masn has no respect for the American people. He is already tainted with the accusations, he should resign. I hope Democrats live up to their promise of a honest, clean and open goverment.

    August 11, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |