New York Congressman Charles Rangel now faces 13 charges of breaking House rules as well as federal statutes.
The charges, which were formally issued Thursday by the House Ethics Panel, do not come as a surprise. As had been expected, Rangel stands accused, among other things, of improperly using "his letterhead, staff and franking privilege to solicit donations to the Charles B. Center for Public Policy at the City College of New York; of using a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem for his campaign office; of failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report; and of failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic."
Needless to say, Rangel is in trouble — the kind of trouble that ends political career.
The word on Capitol Hill is that the senior congressman’s lawyers are close to a deal with the Ethics Committee.
If not, then there can no longer be much doubt that the consequences will be serious — for the congressman and for the Democratic Party, which can ill afford a major ethics scandal involving one of its highest-profile members in an already volatile election year.
In a Congress where Rangel’s party is in control, and where Rangel remains a reasonably well-liked member on both sides of the partisan aisle, the Ethics Committee has set the wheels in motion to publicly try the New York Democrat for ethics violations that—if proven—could lead to a recommendation that he be expelled from the House.
Absent an agreement with the Ethics Committee — and arguably even a deal is reached — the 80-year-old former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee is looking at the prospect of a very ugly close to a remarkable career.