November 15th, 2010
10:36 AM ET
12 years ago

Rangel walks out of ethics hearing

Washington (CNN) - Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, walked out of his House ethics subcommittee hearing Monday morning, complaining that he has not had sufficient time to hire a new legal team to respond to corruption allegations.

The subcommittee members continued meeting behind closed doors.

"Fifty years of public service is on the line. And I truly believe that I am not being treated fairly," he declared. "I deserve a lawyer."

Rangel told the subcommittee he has already spent $2 million defending himself from the charges, and had been advised the hearing - similar to a trial - could cost him another $1 million.

He complained that he was not being given enough time to raise funds to hire new lawyers because the committee was rushing to complete its work before the conclusion of the current lame duck Congress.

Rangel's original defense team left him in September.

"What theory of fairness would dictate that I be denied due process ... because it is going to be the end of this session?" he asked.

Ethics committee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, replied that it was Rangel's responsibility to assemble his legal team.

"Retention of counsel is up to the respondent," she said.

Rangel, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since the 1970s, stepped down as Ways and Means Committee chairman after a slew of ethics allegations. Rangel faces 13 allegations, include failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

House Republicans and some House Democrats have called for Rangel to resign because of the alleged ethics violations.

In August, Rangel said nothing "will stop me from clearing my name from these vile and vicious charges."

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 when responding to assertions that he used House letterhead to approach 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 has said he did nothing wrong but was "insensitive to the appearance of being treated differently."

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

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California is also scheduled to have an adjudication hearing with the House ethics committee this month, on November 29. Waters has denied the allegations against her, which include steering federal bailout money to Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank - in which her husband had a financial stake.
- CNN's Alan Silverleib, Rachel Streitfeld, and Deirdre Walsh contributed to
this report.

Filed under: Charlie Rangel
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Willy Brown

    What were you doing all summer Charlie not to be ready? All’s that‘s left is for him to plat the old race card and walk out again, with the rent a reverends walking along side of him

    November 15, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Bill

    Have these people no shame? Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters, Bill Jefferson, and five members of the jefferson family all inocent. Give me a break.

    November 15, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. phoenix86

    Rangel is not being treated fairly. If he was, he would already be in lock-up and would be brought out only when his trial begins.

    November 15, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. rdepontb

    Mr. Rangell is the one his district voted into office. Is it entirely in their hands, as the Republicans and Tea Partiers would have it be "politics is local?" If so, let's let them his district decide his fate. He broke the rules of Congress, it does appear, and let him be served discipline based on that. As far as official duties, that's up to his district's constituents.

    November 15, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  5. gt

    two of the biggest crooks in congress rangel and walters... both need to retire,,,, in prison....

    November 15, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
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