Image:  Rep.Charles Rangel on Monday
Jonathan Ernst  /  Reuters
U.S. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) awaits the House Adjudicatory subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington November 15, 2010. Rangel faces up to 13 charges concerning ethics and federal regulations covering public officials. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
updated 11/15/2010 7:52:40 PM ET 2010-11-16T00:52:40

It took House investigators two and a half years and a jury of congressional peers two days to conclude Rep. Charles Rangel of New York violated House rules.

A decision on his punishment will be much quicker. Possible sanctions include a House vote deploring his conduct, a fine and denial of certain privileges.

The House ethics committee set a hearing Thursday on the appropriate punishment for Rangel, a Democrat who formerly wielded great influence as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

That's only two days after an ethics panel of eight House members, sitting as a jury, found that Rangel's financial and fundraising conduct violated ethical standards.

Rangel, who has been without a defense team for weeks, can waive the hearing and ask the committee to deliberate his punishment.

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The ethics committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, said Tuesday night that the panel will vote on a recommended punishment after the hearing ends.

In rapid order:

—The jury panel that found Rangel guilty on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing will issue what could be a stinging report explaining its conclusions.

—The sanctions hearing will follow.

—The full ethics committee will recommend a punishment to the House, possibly a censure vote deploring Rangel's conduct. Rangel also could be fined and lose some House privileges.

Rangel says trial committee 'unfair' to him
Rangel complained Tuesday that the trial committee was unfair because it refused to delay the proceeding and give him time to raise money to hire new attorneys. But he also turned his attention to the possible punishment he could face.

"I can only hope that the full committee will treat me more fairly and take into account my entire 40 years of service to the Congress before making any decisions on sanctions," Rangel said.

For Rangel, who is 80 and has served in the House for 40 years, the last eight months have been especially difficult.

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In early spring, he relinquished his chairmanship after the ethics committee — in an unrelated case — found he improperly allowed corporations to pay for two trips to the Caribbean.

He then sought unsuccessfully to have his trial in the current case be held before his contested primary. The ethics committee refused, although Rangel won.

But on Monday, he no longer wanted a quick resolution to the case. He pleaded — again unsuccessfully — with the jury panel for time to start a legal defense fund. His previous defense team, Rangel said, abandoned him after he paid them some $2 million but could not afford an estimated $1 million more to keep fighting the case.

Rangel's downfall, in part, came in the way he solicited money for a New York college center designed as a monument to him. There also was his decade of misleading annual disclosures of his income and assets and his use of a subsidized New York apartment — designated for residential use — as a campaign office.

The conduct often cited by critics was his failure to report income to the IRS from a unit he owned in a Dominican Republic resort — showing the chairman in charge of tax legislation had shortchanged the IRS.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Rangel guilty as Democrats wrangle

  1. Transcript of: Rangel guilty as Democrats wrangle

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: And now to Washington where it's decision day on Capitol Hill as Democrats and Republicans hold leadership elections. And it appears that House Democrats have averted what could have been a messy power struggle. NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell has details. Kelly , good morning.

    KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Good morning to you, Meredith . Well, it is another election day rolling around here. House members will pick a handful of leadership positions. Nancy Pelosi is an expert vote counter, and she's got support lined up. But we do expect a challenge that will end up being just symbolic to her authority. So right now we have Pelosi and one of her longtime allies, Charlie Rangel , both facing pressure for very different reasons. Today, outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to lock in her spot as the top House Democrat.

    Representative NANCY PELOSI: Good afternoon.

    O'DONNELL: And quiet, steady grumbling that unhappy Democrats would really rather see another change election, with Pelosi out.

    Unidentified Man: She has to step aside.

    O'DONNELL: No drama for Republicans who will vote to make John Boehner the

    next speaker today. And his team could add these new faces: South Dakota 's Kristi Noem and South Carolina 's Tim Scott , both tea party favorites. But a very different kind of House vote Tuesday...

    Representative ZOE LOFGREN (Democrat, California): We found a violation by clear and convincing evidence .

    O'DONNELL: the twilight of a career, a vote to convict 80-year-old Charlie Rangel of ethics violations. Guilty on 11 counts that include failing to pay taxes and report income, like rent from this vacation villa; misusing his office and staff to solicit millions in charitable donations for a Harlem college center bearing his name. The committee found that Rangel personally asked for donations from companies seeking tax breaks from Congress .

    Rep. LOFGREN: We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law.

    O'DONNELL: Rangel , who was not there for the verdict and did not offer a defense, says he's been treated unfairly.

    Representative CHARLIE RANGEL: And so as it relates to the due process, I am really disappointed.

    O'DONNELL: But the strain of this case weighed on both Democrats and Republicans who found that Rangel brought discredit to the House .

    Rep. LOFGREN: None of the members of this committee are volunteers.

    Representative MICHAEL McCAUL (Republican, Texas): Sitting in judgment of a fellow member, a colleague, is a very difficult task.

    O'DONNELL: And tomorrow the Ethics Committee will meet again to talk about punishment for Rangel . He'll have a chance to talk there as well. It's expected that it could end up being something like a formal reprimand or a censure; expulsion seems a little bit too far beyond for this kind of offense. Some rumblings about him resigning, but after his overwhelming re-election, that's not expected. Meredith :


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