It didn’t take long for Otter’s defense to flop, either. The House subcommittee probing charges of ethics violations by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) convicted him on 11 of the 13 counts in their allegations:
A House ethics panel has convicted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on 11 of 13 counts of violating House ethics rules.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial of the 20-term lawmaker and less than a day of closed-door deliberations.
“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law,” Lofgren said. “We believe we have accomplished that mission.”
The panel will recommend a punishment, then the full ethics panel will have to convene a sanctions hearing to decide whether to agree to the recommended punishment or determine another one. Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, which Rangel refused to agree to in July, or a censure would need just a simple majority.
There probably won’t be much drama to the conclusion. The Ethics Committee investigation only recommended a reprimand from the outset. That’s the equivalent of a harshly-worded memo, which carries no other penalties at all. A censure is a reprimand read aloud while the defendant stands in the well of the House, which basically means a harshly-worded memo and a YouTube that will live forever.
The only real penalty would be expulsion, and don’t think for a moment that Rangel’s allies will allow that to happen. It’s too bad, really, because as his constituents demonstrated two weeks ago, that’s the only way Rangel will ever leave Congress.
Update: Jazz Shaw made the same prediction in a PJM column this morning.
Update II: One commenter suggested that censure requires stripping the defendant of committee chairmanships and assignments, but that’s not a formal rule. Each party can decide internally how to punish a censured member, as a CRS report on the subject states, and that may include stripping them of assignments — but it’s not a formal consequence, and is decided on a case-by-case basis.