Rangle Guilty

Eleven counts:

A congressional ethics panel found Rep. Charles Rangel guilty Tuesday on 11 counts of violating rules of the House of Representatives and is now weighing how to punish the New York Democrat.

A special eight-member bipartisan panel of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced its findings against Rangel after deliberating for hours behind closed doors following a rare trial.

“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the fact of law,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the chairman of the full committee. “And I believe we have accomplished that mission.”

Rangel, 80, was accused of failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets, improper use of several rent-controlled apartments in his district, questionable fundraising efforts for a college center in New York that bears his name, and failing to pay taxes on property he owns in the Dominican Republic.

The article goes on to say he was basically just sloppy and didn’t really benefit from his misdeeds, but I don’t think that matters much. Regardless, the thing I find absolutely amazing is that he paid millions to his lawyers and they just up and abandoned him right before the trial. Who in their right mind would ever, ever hire the firm that was representing him after watching them do this?

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50 replies
  1. 1
    enplaned says:

    Sad old man who couldn’t bear the thought of relinquishing what has been his for so many years. He’d have done his party a big favor by stepping down at this past election, but no, he couldn’t do that.

  2. 2
    Carnacki says:

    It’s been one of those days where I really think the site needs a second rescue pet story of the day to rescue us from the brink of despair.

  3. 3
    Zifnab says:

    Who in their right mind would ever, ever hire the firm that was representing him after watching them do this?

    Did they ditch him or did he fire them? I could definitely see a situation in which the lawyers all told him he was boned and he needed to do XYZ to minimize the damage, and Rangel just firing the lot of them.

  4. 4
    EconWatcher says:

    The law firm may have had a very good reason for withdrawing, and may be ethically prohibited by confidentiality restrictions from disclosing that reason.

    I know lawyers get no sympathy, and generally they deserve none. But it can be very awkward when a client does or says something that reflects badly on you, and you are restricted from revealing the facts that would show the real story. Happens all the time.

  5. 5
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Sad, Charlie Rangel was one of the good guys.

  6. 6
    Tim I says:

    The law firm denies Rangel’s statement. They said they were fired and had offered Rangel some options on how to deal with his legal bills. By law, they cannot offer pro bono legal services to a serving Member of Congress.

  7. 7
    General Stuck says:

    Ethics violations in Congress. Same as speeding violations at the Daytona 500/ Charlie just got sloppy with covering his tracks with plausible deniability is all. It’s what happens when they believe their own press clippings being ten foot tall and ballot proof. Hate to see it though, cause I always liked Charlie, one cool costumer and a Korean combat vet as well.

    I heard him tell the story where he played dead after his squad was ambushed and somehow survived. He said everything was gravy after that. Guess not.

  8. 8
    ruemara says:

    I’ve heard the charges being read and basically, they convicted him of using his signature, his letter head and his postage privileges in a manner that he shouldn’t have. But there wasn’t anything illegal or profit minded in it. What was the point of this anyway? When John Boehner can hand out lobbyist checks on the House floor with no charges but Rangel using his letterhead to solicit donations for a charity or a university gets a full blown investigation?

  9. 9
    Tim I says:

    I’d also like to point out that Charlie Rangel, who was my Congressman for 30 years, seems to be enjoying the attention he is getting from the press.

    I suspect that he may have walked out today, because it created a lot of drama and sympathy, while drawing attention away from the facts of the case.

    He didn’t commit any great sin, but the details of the 12 counts are all rather tawdry.

  10. 10
    Steve says:

    No one ever talks about the two counts out of thirteen where he was completely, utterly vindicated!

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    Headline spells his name incorrectly.

    Charlie Rangel’s heart and head are in the right place on a lot of issues, but he was and is ethically sleazy and is now dragging his fellow Congresscritters through the muck with him.

    Use of rent-controlled apartments at thousands below market value? $60,000 in unpaid taxes on unreported income from Dominican Republic properties — he says because he doesn’t speak Spanish. Doesn’t someone on his staff? Hello?

    Wrong is just wrong. Whether you are a charming rascal or not.

  12. 12
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Rangel ran out of money. Ethics don’t require a lawyer to represent a client who can’t or won’t pay. He had options. Could have started a legal defense fund. Decided he’d rather throw himself at the mercy of public opinion. Bad move.

    Clients who aren’t deadbeats won’t hold this against his lawyers. Believe me, there’s more reputational risk to people who stiff their lawyers (to say nothing of the risk of, you know, losing the case) than to lawyers who cut people off when they don’t pay.

  13. 13
    cleek says:

    @ruemara:

    When John Boehner can hand out lobbyist checks on the House floor with no charges but Rangel using his letterhead to solicit donations for a charity or a university gets a full blown investigation?

    remember, the Dems got elected in 2006/08 in the wake of a long line of GOP scandals (Cunningham, Foley, etc.). they ran on being different from the “culture of corruption”. and they’ve made a point of keeping things on the up and up.

    good for them , i say.

  14. 14

    I think @TimI has it right. I see no reason to take his excuse about the lawyers at face value.

  15. 15
    Zifnab says:

    @ruemara:

    When John Boehner can hand out lobbyist checks on the House floor with no charges but Rangel using his letterhead to solicit donations for a charity or a university gets a full blown investigation?

    Democrats don’t investigate Republicans. Republicans don’t investigate Republicans. Republicans only investigate Democrats when they can get media attention. And Democrats only investigate Democrats to squelch that attention.

    That’s the way of the world, it seems. Would be nice if someone decided to put Boehner’s nuts in a vice, but Dems are too scared to pull the trigger, because they’re afraid Republicans will… I don’t know what… be worse than they already are, I guess.

  16. 16
    eemom says:

    that is a “prestigious”-ass DC firm too — and members of the subcommittee were openly calling shame on them at yesterday’s hearing. Dunno what they’re gonna do to contain the damage. As of yesterday they still had Rangel listed as a client on their website. Assholes.

  17. 17
    Tim says:

    Leave it to the Dems to crucify one of their own over this grey area bullshit, while letting the Bush gang slide on prosecuting illegal wars and all other manner of atrocities.

    Idiots and tools.

  18. 18
    John PM says:

    the thing I find absolutely amazing is that he paid millions to his lawyers and they just up and abandoned him right before the trial.

    He may have paid millions but owed millions more. As an attorney, you can “fire” a client who has not paid legal bills and shows no sign of doing so. Typically, a court will grant a continuance. If the motion to withdraw due to unpaid legal bills comes too late, however, and risks prejudicing the client, then a court can order a lawyer/law firm to remain as counsel of record. I am not certain why the investigating committee would not have granted a continuance. Could be that the Democrats wanted to get this taken care of before the Republicans take control of the House and make an even bigger spectacle out of the situation. Anyway, I doubt that the law firm is going to be hurting for work.

  19. 19
    Ailuridae says:

    It is Rangel not Rangle.

  20. 20
    Larry Bird says:

    Its a shame there are no other lawyers in DC willing to take his case at a reduced rate. Actually give me a fucking break. He knew he was fucked so he tried to stall a case he knew was doomed. The lawyer leaving was just another excuse to play the victim.

    I wish I could get a reduced rate on my apartment like he was doing. Why are you all so sad for this guy again? The good in life you do does not cancel out the sleaziness you do. To mourn him seems a little hypocritical.

  21. 21
    Koz says:

    “Who in their right mind would ever, ever hire the firm that was representing him after watching them do this?”

    It’s a wink/nudge thing. He fires the lawyers or they quit, one or the other, and Rangel goes crying that the mean Ethics people are denying his right to representation. See the stories.

  22. 22
    Keith G says:

    I like the guy, but have no sympathy for him. I value his service as a warrior and a tenacious legislator, but he done wrong and he should have known it. There is sloppy and then there is slippery.

    The rent deal all by itself is obnoxious and if one of the pig republicans were doing it, many B-Jers would be hopping mad.

  23. 23
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Larry Bird:

    The good in life you do does not cancel out the sleaziness you do. To mourn him seems a little hypocritical.

    Actually, it does, if there is more of the former than the latter. Especially when the good is tangible good and the bad is superfluous.

    Having said that, I don’t see anyone mourning him here. To suggest that a situation is “sad” isn’t mourning the protagonist.

  24. 24
    Elizabelle says:

    @Keith G:

    yeah, I agree there. Situational ethics.

    It does pain me, however, to see the shovel-ready Dick Cheney braying at the GWBush presidential library groundbreaking, on the very same day.

    Some got away with monstrous crimes.

    Even so, wrong is wrong.

    Especially if you’re a littler dude.

  25. 25
    Honus says:

    @Zifnab: I listened to Rangel’s comments at the hearing yesterday. Apparently he has lawyers who would represent him pro bono, and maybe it would be the same lawyers carrying on, but to do so would be a gift and therefore improper and another violation. The lawyers had to quit unless they were paid in full, in order to preserve Rangel’s integrity. This is the Catch-22 he described when he left the hearing. He couldn’t allow himself to take free lawyers, and they wouldn’t give him time to form a defense fund.

  26. 26
    Steve says:

    @Larry Bird: Taking a Congressman’s case at a reduced rate would probably end up as ethics violation #12. Remember Chris Dodd and his maybe-sorta sweetheart deal from Countrywide? You can’t be giving the Congressional discount.

  27. 27
    Tim I says:

    @John PM:

    The lawyers say they did not withdraw – they were dismissed.

  28. 28
    Honus says:

    @Bobby Thomson: As a lawyer who has been stiffed by a number of clients, you’re full of shit.

  29. 29
    ornery curmudgeon says:

    @Tim: “Leave it to the Dems to crucify one of their own over this grey area bullshit, while letting the Bush gang slide on prosecuting illegal wars and all other manner of atrocities.

    Idiots and tools.”

    This is basically my thinking. From the Downing Street Memo to Abu Graib to Scooter Libby to Gonzales to … aw f’it. Whew, at least they ended Rangel’s ugly reign of stupid mistakes horror. LOL.

    Only thing is, I don’t think they are idiots or tools … our politicians are bought by the establishment Party, which is Wealth. They do as they are told, within their respective roles.

    Our politicos are only scared of the People in total, not individually … kind of like herding cattle: beware a crushing stampede, but otherwise rope, corral, brand, or slaughter ’em at will.

  30. 30
    Honus says:

    @cleek: I’m still waiting to see if Boehner ever uses a big government airplane. You know, like Pelosi did.

  31. 31
    morzer says:

    Like it or not, Charlie Rangel was a crook, and the Democrats have done the right thing here. Naturally the media slime-farm will focus on “corrupt Democrat” rather than Democrats cleaning up corruption.

  32. 32
    Steve says:

    @Honus: I’ve been stiffed a time or two myself. I’m curious what specifically you’re disagreeing with.

  33. 33
    Koz says:

    “Like it or not, Charlie Rangel was a crook, and the Democrats have done the right thing here.”

    Really? What thing is that? We can make a judgment of the Demo’s cleaning their own house when we see the punishment that Rangel gets. The Demo’s don’t want to aggressively prosecute Rangel for racial reasons, and the knowledge of that is essentially Rangel’s entire defense at the moment. Anybody’s guess how this can turn out.

  34. 34
    morzer says:

    @Koz:

    Given that they have just publicly found him guilty, it’s pretty asinine to suggest they are afraid of condemning him for racial reasons.

  35. 35
    The Other Chuck says:

    A Democrat was a crook and that’s why we need to ensure no one gets health care or unemployment, outlaw abortion, and also we need to spend more money on the military, give more tax breaks to the richest 2%, and invade Iran. Oh and because Al Gore and Michael Moore are fat.

    This is what’s made me into a blind partisan, because we need even the crooks to hold the frothing psychopaths at bay. But I just can’t do it anymore. I say the Democrats should introduce a bill to cut all taxes to zero. Game over.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Koz:

    Really? What thing is that?

    Convicting him?

    I’m guessing you didn’t even bother to read the story, or even the excerpt if you missed the whole “he was convicted of 11 counts.” The prosecution part is over, ape.

  37. 37
    Moonbatman says:

    Damn wingnuts
    Who do they think they are expecting the guy who writes the tax code to pay his taxes.
    No wonder Rangel told off the wingnut ambush interviewer Jason Mattera the following when he asked about him paying his taxes

    “Why don’t you mind your goddamned business?”

  38. 38
    Honus says:

    @Steve: that clients who stiff lawyers suffer more than the lawyers. I’ve done a lot of work that i never got paid for, and those clients never suffered. In fact most of them are still friends of mine. The ones I really don’t like just had to find another lawyer.

  39. 39
    Honus says:

    @Steve: that clients who stiff lawyers suffer more than the lawyers. I’ve done a lot of work that i never got paid for, and those clients never suffered. In fact most of them are still friends of mine. The ones I really don’t like just had to find another lawyer.

  40. 40
    Honus says:

    @Steve: that clients who stiff lawyers suffer more than the lawyers. I’ve done a lot of work that i never got paid for, and those clients never suffered. In fact most of them are still friends of mine. The ones I really don’t like just had to find another lawyer.

  41. 41
    El Cid says:

    @The Other Chuck: Exactly. While doubling the military budget. And cutting Social Security to zero after 2015.

  42. 42
    El Cid says:

    @Honus: It would be different if Boehner did it, because he won’t be surrendering to Syria.

  43. 43
    Honus says:

    Rangel wasn’t a crook. Even the guy that investigated him testified at the hearing yesterday that there was no evidence that he personally profited at all. He only broke House rules, by using the wrong stationery, etc, to raise money for some projects in his district. Rangel never got a nickel.

  44. 44
    Steve says:

    @Honus: I would agree. I don’t know any lawyers who report clients to credit agencies (maybe we should start?) Ergo, no one knows that your client didn’t pay his bill except you. Also, most lawyers feel that as a sort of continuation of their fiduciary duty, it’s really not cool to go around badmouthing your former client.

    For that matter, pretty much every time I’ve had to withdraw due to nonpayment, the client went out and found another lawyer (presumably someone who would do it cheaper, or on contingency, or whatever). That lawyer knows his new client is a deadbeat, but obviously it doesn’t keep him from taking on the representation, so failing to pay your lawyer doesn’t exactly result in a scarlet dollar sign.

  45. 45
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Honus: We eat our own.

  46. 46
    Honus says:

    @Steve: sorry for the multiple posts. I’m just an old lawyer who’s like +5 right now, and wordpress is more than I can handle.
    I’m also on the other thread wondering by what authority a policeman can force you delete a video file on your phone or camera.
    We can’t show the police doing what they’re doing? I mean, back in the old days, that was evidence, right? And spoliation was forbidden.
    I guess this is an extension of the recent idea that it’s immoral to show the military doing what they’re doing.

  47. 47
    Jon O. says:

    His name is misspelled. It’s Wrangle.

  48. 48
    Koz says:

    “Given that they have just publicly found him guilty, it’s pretty asinine to suggest they are afraid of condemning him for racial reasons.”

    Well, we’ll have to see what the punishment is, and how it’s played. Certainly if he’s expelled, obviously the race angle didn’t intimidate the Demo’s. Otoh, I don’t expect the possibility of expulsion to get very far, for just that reason.

  49. 49
    SRW1 says:

    @Koz:

    Don’t they teach the basics of logic at troll school any more?

  50. 50
    Janus Daniels says:

    @Honus: “Rangel wasn’t a crook. Even the guy that investigated him testified at the hearing yesterday that there was no evidence that he personally profited at all. He only broke House rules, by using the wrong stationery, etc, to raise money for some projects in his district. Rangel never got a nickel. ”
    Figured I should quote you, since some people may have missed it.
    Koz?

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