House votes to censure Rangel

Dec. 2, 2010 at 6:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday voted to censure longtime member Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., for 11 ethics violations.

The House voted 333-79 to censure Rangel after turning aside a resolution calling for a reprimand. It was only the 23rd time in the 180-year history of the House a member had been censured, and the first time in 27 years.

Rangel was forced to stand in the well of the House and listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the ethics charges and committee findings.

Rangel's allies argued the former chairman of the Ways and Means Committee should not be subjected to the humiliation of a formal censure.

"I implore you to pause for a moment and step back," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., urged colleagues, saying the same "standard of justice" should be applied to Rangel as had been applied to others.

"If expulsion is the equivalent of the death sentence, then censure is life imprisonment," King said.

Rangel said little in his own defense but told a lengthy story about the stint he served in the military during the Korean War, saying after that he could find little in his life about which to complain.

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct recommended censure after its adjudicatory panel found Rangel guilty of ethics violations including improperly soliciting donations for an educational center bearing his name, failing to pay taxes on a villa and filing mistake-riddled financial disclosure forms.

Those supporting Rangel say the punishment is disproportionate to the violations.

"It's like getting a year in jail for a parking ticket," Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., a black caucus member, told The Hill Wednesday.

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