Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel took to the House floor Tuesday, declaring in an impassioned speech that he will not resign his seat despite facing a public ethics trial.
The New York Congressman acknowledged pressure from fellow Democrats to step down to avoid “embarrassment” for his party in the lead-up to the November elections, but he said: “I am not going away. I am here.” Members in the chamber could be heard applauding.
An alternately contrite and defiant Rangel later added: “If I can’t get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot on getting rid of me through expulsion.”
A subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct charged Rangel last month with 13 counts of wrongdoing, including allegations that he misused federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, accepted a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office, failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms.
Rangel disparaged the House ethics panel, which is expected to begin his trial in September, for refusing to provide him with a specific date for the process to begin, and publicly reiterated his request.
“I’m having a primary, that I have to wait until after my primary to find out when the ethics committee intends to have a hearing and then that hearing comes just before, maybe, the general election,” Rangel said, referring to his Sept. 14 primary.
The senior Democrat also revealed concerns over his legal bills. He has paid more than $2 million in legal fees since the ethics committee began its investigation in 2008.
“I can’t afford to be represented by counsel. Each and every day the expenses build up,” Rangel said.