Veteran Rep. Charles Rangel, the raspy-voiced, backslapping former chairman of one of Congress' most powerful committees, was censured by his House colleagues for financial misconduct Thursday in a solemn moment of humiliation in the sunset of his career.
Then, in response, he admitted he had made mistakes, including his failure to pay all his taxes, filing misleading financial statements and improperly seeking money from corporate interests for a college center bearing his name.
It was only the 23rd time in the nation's history that a House member received the most severe punishment short of expulsion. Besides the embarrassment, censure carries no practical effect and ends the more than two-year ordeal for the congressman who was re-elected to a 21st term last month with more than 80 percent of the vote.
Relief and defiance took over the moment Rangel finished speaking. Somber, Pelosi quietly slipped out of the chamber, but some Democrats gave him a standing ovation. Rangel made it only a third of the way up the aisle when a phalanx of well-wishers stopped and hugged him; he responded by saying something that made them laugh. He was smiling for the rest of the 10 minutes or so that it took to get through his colleagues to exit the chamber, his humiliation past.
So what was the point? Had I broken as many rules at my job I'd been fired.....
How can we control these politicians, if their constituents won't hold them accountable? The guy should be in jail.
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And what Rangel wanted instead of censure was a reprimand in the form of a private letter sent to him.
I only hope that being censured ensures that people in his district finally get the hint that he should not be re-elected.
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