Rep. Charles Rangel Vows to Fight Ethics Trial: 'I'm Not Going Away'

Article excerpt

The House ethics panel has outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York. But the 20-term lawmaker gave a defiant, off-the-cuff speech Tuesday.

Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York took to the House floor today to set the record straight: Would he quietly step down rather than face a public corruption trial on the eve of midterm elections that could topple his party's House majority?

The answer, emphatically, is no.

"If I were you, I would want me to go away too. I'm not going away," said the 20-term Harlem lawmaker, in a surprise, emotional speech that kept House members riveted to their seats, even as they missed their afternoon plane reservations home.

Democratic leaders called the House back into session today to pass a $26 billion emergency aid package for teachers and state workers, as well as a $600 million measure to beef up security along the US-Mexican border. But Congressman Rangel told colleagues that his situation, too, constituted an emergency. After two years of investigation by the House ethics panel, Rangel said that he deserved a quick resolution to the charges against him.

"This has to stop sometime," he said. "If I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot at getting rid of me through expulsion."

The charges

On July 29, a special investigative subcommittee of the House ethics panel outlined 13 charges against Rangel, including failure to report income, improper use of rent-stabilized apartments, failure to pay taxes on a beach rental property, and unethical fundraising for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York. A trial by the full ethics panel - and, if necessary, the full House - is expected to begin in September.

In a rambling speech delivered without notes, Rangel told House colleagues that he may have made mistakes, but that there was no indication of corruption. …