House votes overwhelmingly to censure Charlie Rangel

Rachel Rose Hartman
December 2, 2010
Charlie Rangel enters a Capitol Hill elevator
Charlie Rangel enters a Capitol Hill elevator

By a vote of 333 to 79, the House of Representatives on Thursday censured longtime lawmaker Charlie Rangel for multiple ethics violations.

The punishment, which amounts to no more than a formal rebuke, was the recommendation made two weeks ago by the House Ethics Committee after concluding that the New York Democrat had failed to report and pay taxes on rental income, improperly solicited donations, improperly ran a campaign office, and other violations.

Rangel has maintained his innocence, saying he never personally profited from any violations. Since the censure recommendation, Rangel has been lobbying Democrats to postpone the censure vote or to lower his punishment to a reprimand (see Rangel's online pdf).

Rangel pleaded his case one last time on the House floor Thursday. He suggested that congressional precedent did not indicate that censure was a fair punishment for his wrongdoing.

"I brought it on myself," Rangel said. "But I still believe that this body has to be guided by fairness."

Ethics Committee members maintained Thursday that the punishment fit the action.

"A public office is a public trust, and Mr. Rangel violated that trust, " committeeman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) said on the House floor prior to the vote. "Let us begin a new era … to restore the credibility and integrity of this House -- the people's House."

(Photo of Rangel: AP/Alex Brandon)