Charles Rangel, the former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, abruptly departed a House ethics panel hearing on Monday, claiming that he could not afford to pay for legal counsel.
He was convicted Tuesday of 11 counts of ethics violations. The House ethics committee will meet to determine his punishment, which may be a reprimand or censure.
“I respectfully withdraw from these proceedings,” he announced before leaving the hearing room on Monday, according to The New York Times.
Rangel had fired the legal team defending him from ethics charges several weeks ago and had announced he would defend himself. He said the law firm had cost him $2 million, and he needed to raise another $1 million to hire new attorneys.
Rangel faces a variety of ethics charges. He has admitted that he initially failed to disclose and pay taxes on rental income from a vacation villa in the Dominican Republic. When newspaper reports pointed out the income, Rangel hired a forensic accounting firm and eventually paid the taxes. He has also been accused of soliciting funds for a building named in his honor at City University of New York, and his use of four rent-stabilized apartments at below-market rates for his offices and home in Harlem.
“I fought in wars, I love this Congress, I love this country,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. He added that he thought he was entitled to have more time to set up a legal defense fund.
Committee chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and other panel members told Rangel that he had several months to set up a legal defense fund. After Rangel left the hearing room, Lofgren began the hearing in his absence, saying, “We recognize that Mr. Rangel has indicated that he does not intend to participate ... and that is his right. These matters have been underway for a long time."
She pointed out that Rangel had already admitted to many of the charges during a speech he made on the House floor earlier this year.
However, the head counsel on the panel, Blake Chisam, told the panel he had found “no evidence of corruption.”
Rangel was re-elected earlier this month in a landslide election.
Register or login for access to this item and much more
All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.
Community members receive:
- All recent and archived articles
- Conference offers and updates
- A full menu of enewsletter options
- Web seminars, white papers, ebooks
Already have an account? Log In
Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access