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Friday, June 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Rep. Rangel Can’t Sue Over Tax-Linked Censure

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge dismissed Congressman Charles Rangel's protest against the congressional censure he faced over tax fraud allegations.

Rangel, D-N.Y., sued House Speaker John Boehner in 2010 after the House Ethics Committee investigated allegations that he improperly rented multiple rent-stabilized New York apartments for his campaign and ducked taxes on rental income from his Caribbean villa leading to his censure.

Rangel argued that "procedural irregularities in the course of his disciplinary proceeding in the House" should warrant a removal of censure from the House records, but U.S. District Judge John Bates determined at the Congressman doesn't have standing to sue.

"Rangel wants this Court to decree that the House somehow lacked the authority under the Constitution and its own Rules to censure him; to sit in review of decisions made by the Ethics Committee, its subcommittees, and the House itself; and to rewrite the House Journal (or to order defendants to do so)," writes Bates in his ruling. "In the end, everything on Rangel's wish list implicates insurmountable separation-of-powers barriers to the Court's exercise of authority."

Rangel, 82, claimed he was denied a fair trial, including the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses; that the subcommittee hearing charges against him were biased and adversarial; and that Republicans "fail(ed) to turn over material relating to the misconduct of Republican members, which probably would have led to a different outcome had plaintiff's rights to due process and his fundamental constitutional rights been adhered to."

Calling it a Constitutional matter, Rangel cited Article 1m Section 5, Clause 2: "Each house may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member."

But Rangel, who currently is the third-longest-serving member of the House with 40 years under his belt, was unable to convince the judge, who found Rangel's chief argument that the censure damaged his reputation unconvincing.

The allegations of Rangel's misdeeds date back to 2008. The House Ethics Committee conducted an investigation at his own request that resulted in the censure.

"Had that been the end of the matter, this case might not have been filed. But several months later, a memorandum purportedly written by the chief counsel of the Ethics Committee, who is a defendant here, was posted on Politico.com, a political journalism website," states Bates.

After the censure, Rangel was booted from his chairmanship of the Committee on Ways and Means, though he remained a member of the committee.

"Even if his purported loss of status on Ways and Means were cognizable as an injury under Article III because of reputational harm, or under a theory of legislative standing, Rangel cannot demonstrate that defendants caused that injury and cannot demonstrate that this Court could redress it," writes Bates.

The judge dismissed all of Rangel's claims.

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