Democratic representative from New York, Charles B. Rangel, walked out of Ethics Committee hearings about his failure to pay taxes, his acceptance of rent-stabilized apartments from a Manhattan Developer, and his acceptance of donations from people with business with Congress, according to The New York Times. Rangel said before he walked out that he couldn’t afford to pay for his lawyers any longer to dispute the claims of misconduct.
When Rangel walked out, it left many people wondering if his pleas of innocence were just talk, as he has said for months that he couldn’t wait until the hearing to tell his side of the story. This case is very similar to many other politicians who have found themselves in legal hot water.
The most recent case that comes to mind is the Rod Blagojevich case, in which he was accused of conspiring to sell President Obama’s former Senate seat. Blagojevich was arrested in 2008, and impeached and removed from his position as the governor of Illinois when the government had about 500 hours of secretly recorded tapes of the former governor that would prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, when the trial was underway in July 2010, Blagojevich’s attorneys rested their case without calling any witnesses in defense. The verdict in the case wound up being that Blagojevich was found guilty of lying to federal agents, but there was a mistrial on the other 23 counts, including his alleged attempt to sell Obama’s former Senate seat, according to The Huffington Post.
Blagojevich’s decision not to take the witness stand was very different than what he portrayed to media outlets. He made the rounds of news shows and even appeared on The Celebrity Apprentice proclaiming his innocence and that he would take the witness stand to prove that. However, when it came time for witnesses to be called by his defense, the defense rested. In the end, the decision to rest came from his attorneys, but it puts some doubt on Blagojevich’s plea of innocence.
Newly elected Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, was once under a lot of media scrutiny himself with his former healthcare company, Columbia/HCA. The healthcare company owned many hospitals that settled a case with the federal government for $1.7 billion for attempting to defraud Medicare, according to NPR. Scott pleaded the fifth to all allegations against his company, and his opponent in primaries, Attorney General Bill McCollum, brought this against Scott, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Scott’s failure to defend himself and his company’s deal that was made with the federal government to pay $1.7 billion is a pretty big indication that there was guilt there. However, this didn’t seem to affect Scott’s campaign or election.
All of these politicians were caught in their pleas of innocence when they decided not to prove that in court. It remains to be seen what will happen in the Charlie B. Rangel case.
David Kocieniewski, “Rangel Inquiry Finds Evidence Beyond Dispute”The New York Times
Douglas Belkin, “Blagojevich Says He Will Testify in Trial” The Wall Street Journal
Michael Tarm, Don Babwin, “Blagojevich Verdict: Guilty of Lying To Feds, Mistrial on Remaining 23 Counts”
The Huffington Post
Scott Hensley, “Once Scrutinized By The Government , Rick Scott Soon Will Govern” NPR
Aaron Deslatte, “Another Rick Scott deposition surfaces” Orlando Sentinel