Eight-member House panel decides Rep. Rangel broke rules, punishment next step

A House ethics panel has found Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York guilty on 11 counts of breaking House rules.

The full ethics committee will next conduct a hearing on the appropriate punishment for the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The committee will then make a recommendation to the House.

Possible punishments include a House vote deploring Rangel's conduct, a fine and denial of privileges.

The eight-member ethics panel had sat as a jury to judge Rangel's conduct. The 80-year-old congressman from Harlem was charged with 13 counts of financial and fundraising wrongdoing.

Talking Points Memo notes:

The subcommittee which found that Rangel had violated ethics law will now forward their convictions to the full ethics committee. The full committee will then hold another hearing, during which it will vote on whether to recommend a punishment for Rangel. If they do, they will send that recommendation -- be it admonishment, censuring, expulsion or otherwise -- to the full House for a vote.

Rangel left his hearing yesterday after the committee denied his request to delay the hearing until he hires legal counsel. Rangel claimed it was the committee's fault that he had no lawyers, and accused it of violating his due process rights.

The violations stem from four different actions: Rangel used official Congressional resources to raise funds for an educational center in his name; he failed to report taxable income on a rental villa in the Dominican Republic; he filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms; and he used a rent-controlled apartment in Harlem as a campaign office.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An eight-member House ethics panel has resumed closed-door deliberations in the ethics trial of Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, accused in 13 counts of engaging in financial and fundraising misconduct.

The jury of Rangel's congressional peers met behind closed doors Tuesday. They're deciding whether the former Ways and Means Committee chairman violated House rules.

If the panel determines that even one count has been proved, the full ethics committee would consider an appropriate punishment.

The 20-term New York Democrat walked out of the trial on Monday, pleading unsuccessfully for time to hire new lawyers. He said his former lawyers abandoned him after he paid them some $2 million, but that he could no longer afford them.

Source: AP News

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