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Player of the Week: Rep. Charles Rangel


For more than two years, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) has been proclaiming his innocence against a slew of ethics allegations. Now he is seeking mercy.

The House this week is expected to take up a censure resolution against him in what will be the end of a marathon ethics investigation.

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Throughout the two years, Rangel has battled the media, Republicans and the ethics committee. He is not done fighting yet.

Rangel contends that censure is not a fair punishment. It is true that Blake Chisam, the ethics panel’s chief counsel, said the violations Rangel committed did not constitute corruption.

But Chisam did say censure is warranted for the 11 violations.

Rangel’s life has been turbulent since the summer of 2006, when he said he was planning to retire if Democrats didn’t win the House. They did, and Rangel’s dream came true as he became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

In 2007, he was one of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill when he introduced what quickly became known as “the mother of all tax bills.” 

The following year, articles about a myriad of ethics issues emerged, and Rangel at first waged an effective public-relations campaign. Yet the controversy surrounding the affable legislator intensified. He spent millions of campaign dollars on legal expenses, though the money has done him little good.

He almost accepted a reprimand from the ethics panel earlier this year but did not fully embrace that deal, and then it was scuttled by ethics committee Republicans.

Rangel had the opportunity to accuse the ethics committee of partisan politics, though that would have meant publicly agreeing to admit wrongdoing. He didn’t, and now faces a steeper punishment.

Rangel, a decorated war veteran, will never return to assume the top Democratic post on the Ways and Means Committee. He is beloved by his constituents and he has his health. But his legacy is forever tarnished.