House to Judge Rangel Thursday

The House is expected to vote on the censure of Rep. Charles Rangel on Thursday, subjecting the four-decade veteran to a humiliating public criticism on the House floor just two weeks after he was found guilty of 11 ethics violations, according to congressional aides.

Rangel has been lobbying for a lesser punishment, such as a reprimand, from the House in the weeks after the ethics committee determined he had violated a wide range of House ethics rules regarding his financial disclosures and fundraising practices. He has argued that he should be spared the harsh punishment because he was not convicted of any criminal violations and that the ethics committee attorneys have said he wasn’t “corrupt” in his practices.

But at this point, there doesn’t seem to be a major movement to spare Rangel of the censure, which is the toughest form of congressional punishment outside of expulsion from the House.

Under the traditional censure procedures of the House, the lawmaker facing the punishment is supposed to stand in the well of the House chamber while the speaker reads the charges aloud. It’s meant to be a public humiliation for a lawmaker to be criticized this way in front of all his colleagues for violating House rules.

Censure has been used only 22 times in House history, with most of those episodes coming during the 19th century when certain House members pledged loyalty to the Confederacy. The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, as the ethics committee is formally known, has recommended censure only three times in its 44-year-history. And the last time any lawmakers were censured was in 1983, when Reps. Daniel Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) were condemned for improper sexual conduct with House pages.

Rangel was found guilty by the ethics panel of 11 counts of violating ethics rules, including charges that he improperly solicited millions of dollars from corporate officials and lobbyists for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York, failed to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars of income and assets on financial disclosure forms, maintained a rent-stabilized apartment as a campaign office in a Harlem apartment building and failed to pay income taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic.

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