Washington — Rep. Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) took to the House floor this afternoon to give a lengthy, defensive speech about the ethics charges he is facing. “I can’t walk away,” he said. “I am not going to resign to make [fellow Democrats] feel comfortable.”
In July, a congressional ethics panel charged Rangel with 13 violations of House ethics rules. In an emotional address, Rangel took on the charges and pledged to fight on. “I’ve always tried to play by the rules,” he said, calling his actions “stupid” but “not corrupt.… I plead guilty of not being sensitive.”
Rangel also acknowledged that he is quickly becoming a thorn in the side to House Democrats who hope to hang onto their seats this fall. “I apologize to the leadership,” Rangel said, adding that he feels “for those people, especially newcomers” to the Democratic caucus who have to answer questions about his conduct. Still, he said, “I am not going away.”
“Don’t leave me swinging in the wind until November,” Rangel pleaded, pushing for an expedited ethics hearing. He said that if President Obama wants him to retire “with dignity,” then “let’s have dignity.… I’m asking for an exposure of the facts.” In a challenge to his critics, he urged them to “fire your best shot at getting rid of me through expulsion.”
Rangel also noted that he expects Democratic leaders to help him with attorneys’ fees once he runs out of money.