Embattled Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel took to the floor of the House of Representatives today, defending himself against charges of ethics violations and saying he won't resign-- even as mid-term elections near.
In an unexpected speech on the House floor on Tuesday, Rangel told colleagues: "I am not going away" and implored "Don't leave me swinging in the wind." A date has yet to be set for an ethics trial.
The Democrat told the House that he made mistakes but that he is not corrupt. He said "I'm not asking for leniency. I'm asking for exposure of the facts.''
He's facing 13 counts of wrongdoing, including providing official favors in return for donations, hiding income and assets, and failing to pay taxes. Expulsion would be the harshest penalty.
Rangel's predicament comes as Democrats and Republicans head into mid-term elections and now there's an added complication on the ethics front: Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., also may face an ethics trial this fall on allegations of improperly trying to help a bank, where her husband owned stock, that was seeking a federal bailout.
New York's Rangel, 80, is a former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Waters, 71, is a prominent member of the House Financial Services Committee.
A good portion of the Rangel case revolves around his soliciting donations — from corporations to foundations — to the Rangel Center at City College of New York. That center was founded to support academic programs in public service.