House Democrats fret over Rangel case
Two top Democrats met with Rep. Charles Rangel on Monday, an aide said, while their colleagues fretted about whether his ethics woes will hurt them in the November election.
The aide declined to elaborate on the talks, other than to confirm that Van Hollen shared with Rangel some of his “observations.” Many Democrats fear that if Rangel’s case goes to trial before a congressional panel in September it could become a “political circus” and undermine Democrats’ chances to retain control of the House.
The House Ethics Committee announced charges last week against Rangel which are set to be made public on Thursday in advance of an anticipated September trial.
The ethics panel has been examining for nearly two years a number of allegations against Rangel, including that he failed to pay taxes on a villa and improperly used his office to solicit contributions to a college center named in his honor.
The 80-year-old Democrat from New York, one of the most senior members of Congress, has denied any wrongdoing and says he welcomes the opportunity to clear himself.
“Everybody is uncomfortable about this,” one House Democrat told Reuters, asking not to be identified by name. “I think we can keep the House, but we don’t want it jeopardized by this.”
A number of Democrats said Rangel should have an opportunity to defend himself and decide for himself whether to cut any deals with House prosecutors.
A possible deal could include Rangel admitting to at least some charges in return for a public admonishment or censure rather than expulsion from Congress.
Another House Democrat, who also asked not to be identified by name, said Rangel should make the call:”But politically this could really hurt us.”
Rep. Rosa DeLauro , a Connecticut Democrat says: “It’s absolutely his call. I don’t know what he is going to do.”
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed (Rangel at a memorial service for U.S. Congressman John Murtha, March 3, 2010)