By Shane D'Aprile - 07/24/10 01:00 AM EDT
In a major development, Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) on Friday night called on beleaguered Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign.
Sutton's statement comes one day after the House ethics committee charged the 80-year-old Democrat with multiple violations.
Sutton has built a reputation as a crusader for congressional ethics. In 2008, she led the fight to pass legislation creating the Office of Congressional Ethics, which now serves as an independent ethics body within the House of Representatives.
In March, Sutton donated to charity the $7,000 given to her campaign by Rangel. Sutton, a GOP target this fall, was elected in 2006. President Barack Obama attracted 57 percent of the vote in her district in 2008.
Earlier this year, Sutton called on Rangel to resign as Ways and Means Committee chairman days before the New York Democrat -- under pressure from House Democratic leaders -- gave up his gavel.
The first call on Rangel to resign from a sitting House Democrat could be the tipping point as an increasing number of Democrats are expressing concern over what Rangel could mean for the party's election prospects this fall.
The House ethics committee is set to release the full charges against
Rangel at an open hearing next Thursday. The charges have not yet been specified.
Rangel could have avoided a trial had he admitted to violating some House rules, but the congressman declined that option, according to the Associated Press.
Rangel held a news conference in New York on Friday afternoon to once again declare his innocence.
Rangel said he was "pleased" that the full evidence against him would be aired Thursday, giving him the chance to defend himself.
"I am so pleased that they have and reported this to the ethics committee," Rangel said. "This is going to be done before my primary election, before my general election."