Democrat Charles Rangel of New York dramatically walked out on his own ethics hearing in the House of Representatives Nov. 15. After claiming lawmakers refused to give him enough time to raise money for a lawyer to defend himself, Rangel left the room, shaking hands with opposing lawyers on his way out.
The New York Times reports 20 minutes of evidence were presented in what appears to be a clear-cut case of ethics violations. His legal team quit two weeks ago, and the case doesn’t have any witnesses, as Rangel has not denied any of the charges compiled against him over the past two years.
Rangel is not the first politician to behave erratically when charges were levied against him. See how he stacks up against these three gems from recent history.
Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, was impeached in January of 2009 after he used the authority of his office to accept bribes for the exchange of an empty Senate seat. President Obama’s vacated Senate seat was to be appointed by the governor, as per state law. Blagojevich was recorded several times as proposing the acceptance of bribes to prospective suitors for the open seat in Washington D.C.
In the midst of his indictment and trial, Blagojevich spent very little time in Illinois. He made an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” only days after he was thrown out of office. The Chicago Tribune reports he made the rounds with the media and was interviewed with Diane Sawyer as well.
Newt Gingrich was fined $300,000 by the House of Representatives on ethics charges, the largest fine ever levied against the Speaker of the House. Gingrich presided over the House of Representatives during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial.
Even while Gingrich stood for family values and touted a conservative base, he was found cheating on his wife, according to a report on Fox News. Gingrich resigned from the House in 1998 when ethics charges were filed against him regarding his use of tax-exemptions to further his own political goals.
Bill Clinton lied about having sex. He lied to the media, to prosecutors and he lied to a federal grand jury after independent counsel Kenneth Staff persuaded him to talk about his affair with Monica Lewinsky under oath.
CBS News reports a book by Ken Gormley outlines Lewinsky’s claim that Clinton also had an affair with Susan McDougal in addition to herself. Clinton’s repeated and stern denials were tell-tale signs something was amiss when evidence and witnesses proved to contradict his claims. In the end, Clinton didn’t get in trouble for having sex; he got in trouble for lying about it to the wrong people.
The case against Charles Rangel involves violating House rules on fund-raising and his failure to disclose financial assets. Other charges include Rangel using his office to raise money for his campaign.
In the grand scheme of things, Rangel’s charges may seem minimal. He testified Nov. 15 he spent $2 million in legal fees over the past two years and is broke. Based on the charges against him, it may be doubtful his House colleagues believe his claims to be financially indigent.
Shear, Michael D., “Rangel Walks Out of House Ethics Trial,” New York Times.
Kocieniewski, David, “House Panel Says Facts in Rangel Case Are Undisputed,” New York Times.
Chicago Tribune, “Blagojevich through the years.”
Associated Press, “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Acknowledges Having Affair During Clinton Impeachment,” Fox News.
Condon, Stephanie, “Monica Lewinsky Says Bill Clinton Lied Under Oath,” CBS News.