Charles Rangel convicted of ethics violations

WASHINGTON Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:48pm EST

1 of 8. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) (C) is surrounded by reporters as he departs a hearing of the House Adjudicatory subcommittee file on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 15, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic Representative Charles Rangel, the former chief tax writer in Congress and a veteran politician, was convicted on Tuesday by fellow lawmakers of ethics violations.

An eight-member congressional panel found Rangel, 80, guilty of 11 counts, including failing to report rental income, improper use of a rent-stabilized apartment and soliciting charitable donations from people with business before Congress.

The House of Representatives ethics committee will now consider punishment, which will likely be a public denunciation by the full House, possibly this week.

Rangel, of New York, resigned in March as chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee after being admonished for corporate-sponsored trips in violation of House gift rules.

Before giving up the gavel, he helped craft President Barack Obama's overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Despite his ethical problems, Rangel's constituents want to keep their popular congressman, a former U.S. prosecutor and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus first elected to the House in 1970.

He won a 21st two-year term with 80 percent of the vote in the November 2 election -- even as his fellow Democrats lost control of the House to Republicans.

Another prominent House Democrat, Maxine Waters of California, is set to go on trial before a House ethics panel on November 29. Waters, a member of the Financial Services Committee, is charged with improperly helping a bank where her husband has an investment.

The fact that two top Democrats are to face trials within two weeks is embarrassing for their party, particularly since such proceedings are rare.

Rangel was the first House member to face a public ethics trial in Congress since Democratic Representative James Traficant in 2002. Traficant got expelled from Congress after being convicted in a federal court of bribery and racketeering.

(Editing by Xavier Briand)

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