Ethics Trial of US Congressman Rangel Opens

U.S. Representative Charles Rangel appeared Monday at the opening of his ethics trial, appealing for a delay in the proceedings and then walking out.

Among the 13 charges facing Rangel, once one of the most powerful members of Congress, are improperly soliciting contributions and failing to report income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.Before the walkout, the 80-year-old New York congressman argued before the four fellow Democrats and the four Republicans on the House Ethics Committee that he did not have a lawyer. He also said he did not have the money to hire one after spending $2 million on legal fees over the past two years.

But the committee members rejected Rangel’s appeal and went ahead with the proceedings without him. Rangel, who has served four decades in Congress, won re-election in his New York district earlier this month with 80 percent of the vote. Up until earlier this year, he served as chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

If the ethics committee finds that Rangel broke rules, it could recommend that the full House of Representatives condemn his conduct. Another Democratic member of the House, Maxine Waters of California, is scheduled to go on trial later this month for her own ethics violations, improperly helping a bank where her husband was an investor – Voanews