WASHINGTON (AP) — The House ethics committee's chief counsel recommended Thursday that Rep. Charles Rangel be censured in connection with the panel's finding that he engaged in improper financial and fundraising conduct.
Chief counsel Blake Chisman called for that punishment, despite the veteran New York Democrat's plea for "a drop of fairness and mercy."
If Chisam's recommendation is carried out, it would be the most serious punishment short of expulsion that could be meted out by the House. Chisam and Rangel argued their positions at a public hearing on sanctions, where the 80-year-old congressman acknowledged making mistakes in handling his finances and said he wasn't there to "retry this case."
He did say he wished the committee would weigh, in considering its vote on punishment, how the House had handled previous cases involving lawmakers who were enriched by activities they undertook that were judged to be in violation of the chamber's rules.
Before Chisam commenced his remarks, Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., told committee colleagues that Rangel needed only to "look in the mirror to know who to blame" for his predicament.
Chisam said Rangel "brought discredit" upon the House and that his actions "served to undermine public confidence in this institution."
The committee was poised to recess for a closed session to discuss the recommendation of censure.