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Effort to Censure Rangel Fails

Just hours after a prominent Senate Republican pleaded not guilty to federal charges, House GOP leaders tried to shift the ethics focus across the aisle today by offering a motion to censure House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

The censure motion, which was "tabled" (or shelved) on a mostly party-line vote, 254-138, came barely a week after Rangel himself took the highly unusual step of asking the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to determine whether he violated any ethics rules in two separate cases -- one related to his use of four rent-controlled apartments and one related to his use of congressional stationery to arrange meetings with potential donors to an educational center that bears his name.

Before House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) could offer the censure resolution, which focused only on Rangel's New York apartments, Rangel went to the well of the House and attempted to head off the action by asking the minority to join him instead in asking the ethics panel to investigate his activities.

"There is no one in this House that is more thick-skinned than I am when it comes to politics," Rangel said, adding that the minority's effort to "tarnish" his reputation was "a step beyond" traditional partisan combat.

Rangel reiterated that he believed he "violated no law or spirit of any law," and called again for an ethics probe of himself. But he suggested that for "mean-spirited people in the minority" to assert he was a "discredit to the Congress" was simply wrong. Rangel's words brought a standing ovation from the Democratic side of the aisle, and mostly silence from Republicans.

Boehner did not take up Rangel's offer, and proceeded to offer the censure resolution. Twenty-five Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting to table the measure, and 29 more Republicans voted "present."

The GOP's move today comes as the party is dealing anew with alleged corruption problems, as the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) put the spotlight uncomfortably back where it was in the 109th Congress -- on the GOP's ethical transgressions, rather than its policy positions.

Censure is an extremely rare disciplinary step that the House or Senate can dole out to its members (or to non-congressional figures, like President Andrew Jackson). The action doesn't necessarily carry with it any specific punishment, it merely indicates the House or Senate's formal disapproval of a person's actions. Since 1890 only five House members have been censured, the most recent being Reps. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and Dan Crane (R-Ill.) in 1983 for sexual misconduct with House pages.

Boehner and his fellow Republicans never expected their censure motion to be successful, especially with the ethics panel only just having received Rangel's complaints against himself. At best, the GOP hoped to remind people -- at least for a few minutes -- that Ted Stevens isn't the only ethics story in town by getting members of the media (like this one) to write about Rangel. Is Capitol Briefing being used? Sound off in the comments section below.

The full text of the unsuccessful censure resolution is after the jump:


Raising a question of the privileges of the House.

Whereas the representative from New York, Charles B. Rangel, serves as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a position of considerable power and influence within the House of Representatives;

Whereas clause 1 of rule XXIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives provides that ''A Member, Delegate, Resident Commission, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.'';

Whereas the New York Times reported on July 11, 2008 that, ''While aggressive evictions are reducing the number of rent-stabilized apartments in New York, Representative Charles B. Rangel is enjoying four of them, including three adjacent units on the 16th floor overlooking Upper Manhattan in a building owned by one of New York's premier real estate developers.'';

Whereas the New York Times newspaper reported on July 11, 2008, that Rep. Rangel, ''paid a total rent of $3,894 monthly in 2007 for four apartments at Lenox Terrace, a 1,700-unit luxury development of six towers, with doormen, that is described in real estate publications as Harlem's most prestigious address.'';

Whereas the New York Times newspaper reported on July 11, 2008, that ''The current market-rate rent for similar apartments in Mr. Rangel's building would total $7,465 to $8,125 a month, according to the Web site of the owner, the Olnick Organization.'';

Whereas clause 5(a)(2)(A) of rule XXV of the Rules of the House defines a gift as, ''a gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forbearance, or other item having monetary value.'';

Whereas clause 5 of rule XXV provides that a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not knowingly accept a gift in violation of that clause;

Whereas the New York Times newspaper reported on July 18, 2008, ''Mr. Rangel acknowledged that his use of one of the apartments as a campaign office 'presents an issue,' given that city and state guidelines require rent stabilized apartments to be used as a primary residence.'';

Whereas section 2520.11(k) of the Rent Stabilization Code of the State of New York prohibits the application of rent stabilization to ''housing accommodations which are not occupied by the tenant, not including subtenants or occupants, as his or her primary residence as determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.'';

Whereas in each of the years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, the campaign committee of the representative from New York, Representative Rangel, known as ''Rangel for Congress'' and by Federal Election Commission Identification Number C00302422, made disbursements to the Lenox Terrace Development Association for payment of office rent;

Whereas Olnick Organization, Inc. owns the Lennox Terrace Development;

Whereas according to the State of New York, Department of State, Division of Corporations, the Olnick Organization, Inc., owner of Representative Rangel's apartments, is an active domestic business corporation;

Whereas section 441b(a) of title 2, United States Code, states that ''it is unlawful for any national bank, or any corporation organized by authority of any law of Congress, to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office, or for any corporation whatever, or any labor organization, to make a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which presidential and vice presidential electors or a Senator or Representative in, or a

Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, Congress are to be voted for, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any of the foregoing offices, or for any candidate, political committee, or other person knowingly to accept or receive any contribution prohibited by this section, or any officer or any director of any corporation or any national bank or any officer of any labor organization to consent to any contribution or expenditure by the corporation, national bank, or labor organization, as the case may be, prohibited by this section.'';

Whereas Federal Election Commission records confirm that in 2004 Representative Rangel received $2,000 in campaign contributions from Sylvia Olnick, an owner of Olnick Organization, Inc. the company that owns his apartment building, and that Representative Rangel's separate political action committee also received $2,500 donations from Ms. Olnick in 2004 and 2006;

Whereas the New York Times newspaper reported on July 11, 2008, ''City records show that in 2005, a lobbyist for the Olnick Organization met with Mr. Rangel and Mr. Paterson, who was then the State Senate minority leader, as the company set out to win government approvals of a plan to expand Lenox Terrace and build another apartment complex in the Bronx.'';

Whereas Representative Rangel's acceptance of more than one rent-controlled apartment for his personal use is a violation of the House gift ban;

Whereas Representative Rangel's failure to disclose the aforementioned gifts on his annual Personal Financial Disclosure statements is a violation of House rules;

Whereas the acceptance by Representative Rangel's campaign of illegal corporate contributions from the Olnick Organization, Inc. violates Federal law;

Whereas the failure by Representative Rangel's campaign to disclose certain contributions from the Olnick Organization, Inc. violates Federal law: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That--

(1) by the conduct giving rise to this resolution the representative from New York, Representative Charles B. Rangel, has dishonored himself and brought discredit to the House and merits the censure of the House for same; and,

(2) the representative from New York, Mr. Rangel, is hereby so censured.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 31, 2008; 4:30 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is a Government Shutdown Ahead?
Next: Bizarre Scene on the House Floor


Don't worry about breaking the law we got your back. That's all I'm getting out of this story. If it were you or I we would be serving jail sentences. 2 sets of standards. Theirs and ours. Sound like pre America days back in merry old England.

Posted by: askgees | July 31, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

ANY politician who feels the need to insist in the press that they "violated no law or spirit of any law," in reference to using rent controlled apartments for ANY use has most certainly been unethical.

WHAT is ANY public servant doing occupying low-rent apartments? Is the pig trough not deep enough in lobbyests' beltway-barnyard? Do politicians need to consume benefits meant for the poor people they represent? What about the single working mothers who could have been living there?

Rangel can afford to live anywhere. Let poor people have the low rent apartments in his district and let Rangel rent space elswhere AT FULL MARKET VALUE!

Posted by: JBE | July 31, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Seems like the Republican can find nothing wrong with an illegal war, but the want to use the rule of law when it suits them. What a crazy world.

Posted by: Christian | July 31, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Seems like the Republican can find nothing wrong with an illegal war, but they want to use the rule of law when it suits them. What a crazy world.

Posted by: Christian | July 31, 2008 6:54 PM | Report abuse

dems are corrupt and will always be corrupt, morally, spiritually and financially...
they won't drill to lower the price of gas but will tax us to proverty...
vote the bums out...NOW...

Posted by: Dwight | July 31, 2008 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Much like so many of the republican posters on any washingtonpost forum, the usual response to one of their own getting caught doing something "dirty" is to say Clinton Did It Too!

The house republicans are trying to wipe some of the crap off of stevens and smear it on one of the hated democrats. Rangel did it too!

It's all reflection and image and imitation for republicans. Being such shallow people they are unable to perceive the depths of their own perfidy.

I'd like to hear one of you republicans explain to me how a democrat having done the same ugly thing your guy has done excuses your guy from having done it? If it doesn't excuse it, then why do you insist that it's relevant at all to the discussion? You're just trying to divert attention away from the man behind the curtains again aren't you?

You're willingness to forgive the crooks in your ranks in order to keep the democrats from crowing about having caught one is the BIG REASON there are so many crooks in your ranks.

Well the hated democrats aren't going to fix your party, you're going to have to do it yourselves. You're going to have to stop forgiving these crooks, and purge them now. Until you do, you're going to be out there in the wilderness for a long time ... and I as a true independent rely a great deal on your ability to curb the fatuous democrats from their gross behaviors too.

The republican entry into the wilderness is your fault.

Posted by: geez | July 31, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dwight -

The greedy oil companies want lucrative oil off-shore deals - so this is all a set up.
Even if they are given the license to drill off-shore oil prices are not coming down anywhere in the near future.
Demand around the world has gone up -
Do you think $11 billion in profits is enough for any company?
Why don't they give back some of those profits to us struggling Americans. Or that is justified by Republicans under the banner "free markets".
Well there is nothing free about oil profits - they (oil companies) will not let you develop alternate sources of inexpensive energy while they can earn those kind of profits!

What are they doing with the profits - making themselves richer by buying back their own shares instead of distributing it to shareholders.

Posted by: wendynyc | July 31, 2008 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Also - Charlie - We Love You!!in New York.

Posted by: wendynyc | July 31, 2008 8:52 PM | Report abuse

That's what you get for turning on Hillary in early June when she wanted to continue her campaign past the point when Obama had clinched the nomination.

No honest man goes unpunished.

No politician either.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 31, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Charlie has a huge sense of entitlement, and while he may be a slug, he has lots of friends. Most of whom share Charlie's philosophy.

Posted by: Tupac Goldstein | July 31, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure it was Andrew Jackson that was censured and not Andrew Johnson, who became president when Lincoln was murdered?

Posted by: NMAIF | July 31, 2008 11:49 PM | Report abuse

JBE is a hayseed. Rangel's salary is enough to buy him a porto-potty in Manhattan at market rates. This is a $1500 per square foot market. Around here, public servants either get rent-control units, or live 70 minutes away from the office (see teachers, firefighters, cops, etc).

Posted by: Nytwelveyrs | August 1, 2008 12:38 AM | Report abuse

Hang in there Charlie!!! The repugs are mad as hornets over their complete failure and they are lashing out under the stress.

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | August 1, 2008 1:27 AM | Report abuse

Ok...onto the next news of the day...gas prices, perscription medication, health care, education, Iraq, Iran...

Posted by: eNews Reference | August 1, 2008 6:06 AM | Report abuse

But,of course the head sleaze totally phony
most corrupt,crooked Speaker of the House
in history,and most incompetent as well,
Mad Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her
pet cockroach Steny Hoyer will never throw
one of their own corrupt and totally crooked Democrat losers like Charles Rangel
out of Congress,even if Rangel was caught
raping a House Page on House Floor. The
stinking Democrats are just as crooked
and corrupt and sleazy as the Republicans,
and Head Sleaze Nancy Pelosi,Barack Obama,
Steny Hoyer,Charlie Rangel prove it!

Posted by: Sandy5274 | August 1, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

For uncensored news please bookmark:

Obama Doesn't Sweat. He should.

by Greg Palast

Greg Palast on the Thom Hartmann show - Obama Doesn't Sweat,

In swing-state Colorado, the Republican Secretary of State conducted the biggest purge of voters in history, dumping a fifth of all registrations. Guess their color.

In swing-state Florida, the state is refusing to accept about 85,000 new registrations from voter drives - overwhelming Black voters.

In swing state New Mexico, HALF of the Democrats of Mora, a dirt poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic county, found their registrations disappeared this year, courtesy of a Republican voting contractor.

In swing states Ohio and Nevada, new federal law is knocking out tens of thousands of voters who lost their homes to foreclosure.

My investigations partner spoke directly to Barack Obama about it. (When your partner is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., candidates take your phone call.) The cool, cool Senator Obama told Kennedy he was "concerned" about the integrity of the vote in the Southwest in particular.

He's concerned. I'm sweating.

It's time SOMEBODY raised the alarm about these missing voters; not to save Obama's candidacy - journalists should stay the heck away from partisan endorsements - but raise the alarm to save our sick democracy.

For the rest please go:

Posted by: che | August 1, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

First of all my father lives in the units that Rangel has his offices. He has been there for years and only pays $750. It has only been in the past couple of years that the area has been gentrified, that the rents have been skyrocketing. So being that Rangel moved in over a decade ago, it would not have been paying way below market rate.

Furthermore, the community is proud that our Congressman lives in the same area that we do.

The facts surrounding the case is misleading at best. I wish that more of our politicians lived in the community. And frankly a decade ago there was not a lot of suitable housing for an esteemed official. I mean, he would not live in a slum.

Rember the units are off of 135th Street off of Lenox Ave. the area used to be notorious for crime and drugs. His presence helped to instill pride.

It is true we need more affordable housing, but this is a separate issue.

Posted by: Harriet | August 1, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Also, decades ago when Rangel moved in the units, the rents were considered far above market rate. Before the area was gentrified, the building had a doorman and was considered of the best housing, and was the place middle and upper middle income persons and dignitaries chose to live.

Now the entire neighborhood is changing and white and upper income people are moving in, pushing poor people out. But, Rangel lived in the hood when it was black and poor, and remains there as the neighborhood is developing.

I am not very happy with Rangel because of his support of Hillary, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong for him to be persecuted for these units. Personally, i am a strong advocate for community empowerment and affordable rental housing. If he moved in after the area became gentrified and got these low rents, that would be an issue.

But the fact is, he helped to improve the community that he serves and lives in.

There are many middle income and higher income individuals that have lived there for years, and they also pay a much lower rent. BTW, the rent does not drastically increase as individual income increases or as the neighborhood improves. This was never considered a low income housing development project.

Folk who chose to live in Lenox Terrace in Harlem during the hard times, are gaining an economic benefit now. So what? Just as homeowners who buy a home in an area, and the market rate improves, gain economic advantage. Rangel did not intentionally set out to profit off of the new development.

The NYT article i read about this issue was misleading. They stated the rents in the units are $8000. As i said i have a father who lives there that pays $750. sure the owners would like to run out the poor folk and brining in upper scale people, but this is also a separate issue.

You have to understand the history of Harlem and the current gentrification to gain a proper perspective on this matter. And then, you'll understand. There was no wrong doing on the part of Rangel.

Posted by: Harriet | August 1, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Republican sympathizers posting here with only attacks for dem's should pay attention to this line from the article, "Twenty-five Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting to table the measure, and 29 more Republicans voted "present." Seems 54 upstanding Republicans do not agree with your politically motivated rants! Explain that one!

Posted by: KennyG | August 1, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Our country is unrolling into a hell hole and our Representatives choose to take a 5 week vacation. It's time to flush the toliet. Elect no one who was an incumbant in this Congress. Our Republic was never founded on the principle that folks would make a 20-30-40 year career in office. Where is Davy Crockett when you need him?

Posted by: Timothy Bryant | August 1, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I find it so reprehensible when a politician does some stunt like this when they know it will no pass, thus reducing the stunt to a political play. It makes Republicans look so foolish when in fact, Rangel himself requested an ethics investigation. Now Boehner just looks like a political hack bent on making noise to try to deflect the gruesome mess that Stevens is in. With the string of malfeasance of Republicans, the Party would do well to clean house before a drove of folks like me find it necessary to change our party affiliations. Sad that some politicians never learn and continue to confirm their dirty politics behavior over and over.

Posted by: Mari | August 1, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Let the Ethics Committee do its job!!

Posted by: CarmanK | August 1, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

They said after it was all over, Boehner stood in front of all and began weeping like a little school girl. It seems like thats all this guy does when he's having a bad day. I wish he'd choose somewhere else to get in touch with his "feminine side".

Posted by: edfeeney | August 1, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

This country is headed into the pit in a handbasket at blinding speed. Personal liberties are being attacked in the name of "homeland security", the President and his cronies have turned over the keys of the treasury to Halliburton, Congress is doing little more than standing on the sidelines and cheering. And as we slide into the abyss, the Presidential campaigns (instead of serious discussion of the real issues) are preoccupied with petty nonsense. Heaven help us.........

Posted by: Chuckit | August 1, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Watching the Republicans and Democrats try to run this country is like watching two troupes of Monkeys trying to launch the space shuttle. You know it's never getting off the ground, you just want to see what blows up next.
Lots of noise, angry faces, poo flying everywhere, demonstrations, agitations, charge and counter charge. To paraphrase the bard, it's a lot of wind and fury but it signifies nothing.
Try to remember that as you chatter the democratic and republican talking points back and forth at each other, or better yet, just wing a handful of poo, it's what your heroes do.
Our economy is based on oil for energy, and we're running out of oil. That's reality. Why don't you try starting from there, since any solution to these problems is going to have to, at least in some small way, be based on reality. Sorry, I know how everybody like to construct personal fantasy worlds where they are the white night fighting the godless (or brainless) hordes, but that's not reality, so that's not productive.
Or you can just keep waisting time until the oil runs out, the power gets turned off and you loose your internet connection. The choice is yours.

Posted by: Dijetlo | August 2, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The country is in a fen morally! Look at the world's greatest country( self-proclaimed greatness) and what does one see? Corruption,greed,dishonesty,theft etc.
among people in high places aere indeed frightening. No, not the average American but people in power> Rangel's misdeeds are
"mild" when compared with the many other unethical and reprehensible acts by the power elite. Yet,many continue to rant,"
America is the greatest country in the world. God bless America." How ridiculus can we get?

For many decades we condemned the Soviet Union for the acts of corruptness in government. Are not politicians and other
people of power worse in the U.S. We often overlook our own faults but make songs out of the faults of others.The country is drowning in her sea of problems. You don't see it?

What makes my blood boil is the contemptible practices of the sanctimonious
Republicans who purport to be "saints".I
detest some of the practices of the Democrats. But, when it comes to ethics and morality, the Republicans are miles ahead! Does not sound credible? Please do research on the number of indictments and
pending charges against people with Republican connections.The latest being Stevens.

The Republicans have mastered the art of
shifting negative focus.Are they getting the assistance of our former president, Bill Clinton, I wonder? I commend some of the Republicans in congress for their commendable beliefs and actions. But, they are negated by their the reprehensible practices of their colleagues in congress and other high places.If you do not like a
song from your adversary, sing one that is louder and one that would blot out the other.

There are clear signs on the horizon that the Republicans are about to booted out in dozens from their positions in the coming elections.The time is ripe for a Democrat at the head of our nation.The country hath
need of thee, Obama. She is in a fen!

Posted by: Logan | August 4, 2008 12:37 AM | Report abuse

The Republicans have the nerve to want to censure Rangel. You can't even get that dasterly Karl Rove. More importantly, look straight ahead and strongly consider censuring or better still - impeaching George W. Bush for what he has done to this country.

Posted by: Harriet Davis | August 4, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans have the nerve to want to censure Rangel. You can't even get that dasterly Karl Rove. More importantly, look straight ahead and strongly consider censuring or better still - impeaching George W. Bush for what he has done to this country.

Posted by: Harriet Davis | August 4, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Charlie Rangel has done more for his constituents than any member of congress. Leave him alone. He broke no laws. Harriet is right. I think he has moved his office out of the building, which is prudent and wise. But his apartment is his home and has been for years. Find something real to complain about; there are many greater issues than Rep. Rangel's rent. No, I am not a black New Yorker. I am a white Arizona resident who has great respect for what Charlie Rangel has done for his district and his people.

Posted by: Karol | August 4, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: ricrelcacota | August 11, 2008 6:44 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: ricrelcacota | August 11, 2008 6:45 AM | Report abuse

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