Rangel Asks Supporters to Make a Call on His Behalf

With the hour of his reckoning drawing near, Representative Charles B. Rangel on Wednesday morning asked thousands of his supporters to call the Capitol switchboard and ask their congressmen to vote against a measure that would censure him for an assortment of ethical violations.

The last-minute appeal, e-mailed to 25,000 people on the congressman’s campaign mailing list, includes an apology for his transgressions, but asserts that “censure is excessive and that my lapses do not rise to the level of transgressions of those censured in the past.” Invoking his decorated service in the Korean War and half a century as a prosecutor and elected official, Mr. Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, said he hoped his supporters would show similar resolve toward him during this dark moment.

“I have spent my entire life standing up for those in need and now I am asking that you please stand with me in this hour of need,” said the e-mail (see also below), the subject line of which read “Can you make a call for me?”

Mr. Rangel’s call to rally his supporters came as the House of Representatives was preparing to vote on an ethics committee resolution to publicly censure him for violating 11 House rules in his fund-raising and handling of personal finances. The vote, which had been expected Wednesday, was pushed back until Thursday afternoon at Mr. Rangel’s request. If the censure resolution passes, Mr. Rangel will be required to stand in the well of the House while the speaker reads a formal statement castigating him for bringing dishonor to the Congress.

Mr. Rangel’s appeal for community support was an 11th-hour effort to mitigate the damage of his ethics problems by using the clout and goodwill he amassed during 40 years in Congress. For years, Mr. Rangel’s brashness made him one of the most popular and influential members of Congress and allowed him to climb to the position of chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee.

That prominence has made him a very visible target during the past two years, however, as Mr. Rangel has been dogged by an array of charges that he failed to pay taxes on rental income from a Dominican villa, accepted several rent-controlled apartments from a Manhattan developer and solicited charitable donations from donors with business before the committee he led.

Republicans have for years used Mr. Rangel as a rebuttal to Democrats’ promise to run the most ethical Congress in history. Many members of the Democratic caucus, who lost control of the House in the elections last month, seem eager to put Mr. Rangel and his ethics problems behind them — although a few have said they will oppose the censure measure, including Representatives Gregory W. Meeks of New York and James E. Clyburn of South Carolina.

“I know you hold his position to a higher standard, and I do, but I still don’t think they get to censure,” Mr. Clyburn said of the violations Mr. Rangel was found to have committed.

The ethics committee has brushed aside many of Mr. Rangel’s appeals for sympathy. Led by a Democrat and split evenly between the parties, the committee continued its public hearing on the charges last month even after Mr. Rangel walked out in protest, saying that he no longer had money for a lawyer. Despite an impassioned plea for mercy, in which Mr. Rangel, 80, said he did not know how much longer he had to live, the committee voted 9 to 1 to censure him.

The committee’s full report on the investigation, released Tuesday, showed some of the legal maneuvering that tried the patience of committee members and helped drive Mr. Rangel’s legal bills well over seven figures.

The report includes thousands of pages of correspondence between Mr. Rangel’s lawyers and the committee, including his repeated demands that one committee member, Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, recuse himself. Mr. Rangel’s lawyers argued that Mr. McCaul’s public criticism of Mr. Rangel showed a bias in the case, but the committee voted unanimously that he could fairly continue to participate in the matter.

The committee documents also revealed that when Mr. Rangel walked out of the hearing, committee lawyers were preparing to call an assortment of witnesses who had been solicited for donations Mr. Rangel, including the A.I.G. vice president Edward Cloonan and Donald Trump.
Text of Rangel E-mail to Supporters

Powered by WizardRSS | Best Membership Site Software
Go to Source