Will Rangel’s Ethics Trial Derail Dems?

<a href = "http://www.flickr.com/photos/reprangel/4619069994/">flickr/RepRangel</a href>


New York Rep. Charles Rangel plans to vigorously fight the ethics charges lodged against him Thursday evening by the House ethics committee. But the public ethics trial Rangel has insisted upon, which will likely start in September, is set to collide with this fall’s midterm elections season and could damage Democratic prospects as a result.

Rangel could have settled with the House ethics committee and ended the investigation behind closed doors, a resolution his party likely would have preferred. But this quieter fix would have forced Rangel to admit that he accepted four rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan and misused office stationary to solicit donations for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at New York’s City College, among other allegations. Though he was willing to accept responsibility for some violations, Rangel would not budge on others, the Associated Press reported.

When asked by a New York Daily News reporter if he would defend himself at trail, Rangel responded, “You bet your sweet ass. If I can testify, I will.” Rangel also told reporters that he has been waiting for a chance to speak publicly and clear his name since his ethics investigation began two years ago: “Now the facts are going to get out and I think that’s good. I don’t have any fear at all politically or personally what they come up with.”

But Rangel may not need to clear his name in Harlem, where he is the only congressman many of his constituents have ever known. Residents told NY1 that they were in no rush to judge Rangel. “I deal with the facts, so until all the facts come out, I don’t want to say, because right now it’s all speculation,” one resident said. “Other people are doing the same thing, but they’re after him,” said another. And for those New Yorkers old enough to remember life before Rangel got elected, many recall him as a Korean War hero with a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, accolades he campaigned on decades ago.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.