Charles Rangel is the Democratic Congressman for New York's 15th congressional district, serving since 1971.Â He is the most senior member of New York's congressional delegation. In January 2007, Rangel became Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the first African-American to do so. He is also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Rangel was born in Harlem in New York City.Â Â He earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, where he led a group of soldiers out of a deadly Chinese Army encirclement during the Battle of Kunu-ri in 1950.
Rangel graduated from New York University in 1957, and St. John's University School of Law in 1960. He then worked as a private lawyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney, and legal counsel during the early-mid 1960s. He served two terms in the New York State Assembly, from 1967 to 1970, and then defeated long-time incumbent Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in a primary challenge on his way to being elected to the House of Representatives.
He became chair of the House Select Committee on Narcotics, where he helped write policy during the 1980s.Â He played a significant role in the creation of the 1995 Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation and the national Empowerment Zone Act, which helped change the economic face of Harlem and other inner-city areas.
Beginning in 2008, Rangel faced a series of allegations of ethics violations and failures to comply with tax laws. In February 2010, the House Ethics Committee concluded that Rangel had violated House gift rules by accepting payments from corporations for reimbursement for travel to conferences in the Caribbean, and required him to repay those expenses.
The Ethics Committee also focused on three other investigations, which involved allegations of improperly renting multiple rent-stabilized apartments in New York City while claiming his Washington, D.C. home as his primary residence for tax purposes, of improperly using his office in raising money for the Rangel Center at the City College of New York, named after him, and of failing to disclose rental income from his villa in the Dominican Republic.
Today the Ethics Committee found Rangel guilty of 11 counts of violating House ethics rules and recommended that the lawmaker be censured.Â Subcommittee chairwoman, California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, looked very upset and called the 9-1 vote to censure the popular pol "quite wrenching."Â Former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau said Rangel's "being railroaded." Asked if Rangel should resign, Morgenthau said, "No". He's done more for the people of this city than anybody else."Â Rangel also trotted out Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an icon of the civil rights movement, to speak on his behalf.
What is your opinion?Â Was Mr. Rangel "railroaded?"Â Did the punishment fit the crime?Â Is it time for Charles Rangel to just ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again?
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