A combative Rep. Charles Rangel told the House on Tuesday he’s not resigning despite 13 charges of wrongdoing and demanded the ethics committee not leave him “swinging in the wind.”
Rangel, who is 80, spoke without notes in an extraordinary, often emotional 37-minute speech that defied his lawyers’ advice to keep quiet about his case.
The Harlem Democrat and 40-year House veteran had a sharp message in dismissing fellow Democrats who, worried about election losses, want him to quit: “If I can’t get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion.”
Expulsion is the harshest penalty that can result from an ethics case. It would be highly unlikely in Rangel’s case because the former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee is not accused of corruption.
Rangel, who said he has lost much sleep during the two-year investigation, was interrupted by applause twice — including when he said: “I am not going away. I am here.” A few Republicans clapped, but most support came from Democrats.
The Democrat from Harlem acknowledged that he made mistakes, especially in belatedly reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and income, but he insisted he was not corrupt.
“I’m not asking for leniency. I’m asking for exposure of the facts,” he said in demanding that the ethics panel expedite the hearing of his case.
Rangel noted the committee is scheduled to convene Sept. 13, the day before his primary election, but that the main part of his ethics trial would not come until later in the fall.
“Don’t leave me swinging in the wind until November,” he demanded.
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