CREW is calling for Charlie Rangel’s resignation now that the Ethics Committee has found him guilty on 11 of the 13 charges against him for violating House ethics rules. But the guy was just reelected overwhelmingly two weeks ago today, and no new facts about the alleged violations have emerged since then. Thwarting the will of the voters in his district would be appropriate in truly egregious situations where the Member is utterly unfit to serve and his presence interferes with the conduct of the people’s business. Rangel’s violations don’t fall in that category.
But here’s where it gets tricky: What should Rangel’s punishment be?
He already lost his plum chairmanship, and most observers expect him to get the minimum sanction from the House: an admonishment. His violations in isolation don’t seem to merit any more than an admonishment. But do you let someone off with the lightest punishment possible even as he continues to thumb his nose at the entire process? I have a hard time squaring that circle.
Rangel has admitted he made some mistakes, and he corrected them. But along the way he’s bad-mouthed the committee, made a spectacle of himself and the hearing process, impugned the reputations of those sitting in judgment of him, and made clear that his only concern is himself and not the good of the House. You have to take that into account when meting out his punishment.
David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.