Rangel ties up ethics trial proceedings
Well, that was quick. Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) is holding up proceedings with the argument that he be entitled to counsel. He just asked to withdraw from the proceedings, but before he could, Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) had made a “motion to continue,” effectively questioning whether the trial should proceed, and the subcommittee is going into a closed session to consider it.
Rangel’s argument that he is entitled to counsel is somewhat odd. He retained counsel until a few weeks ago, paying his lawyers handsomely out of his campaign and political action committee accounts. As the New York Post reported yesterday:
On top of the $393,000 in PAC funds, records show Rangel yanked $1.4 million from his campaign coffers in 2009 and 2010 to pay the firm Zuckerman Spaeder, his main legal-defense team, and $100,000 in 2009 to pay Davis’ firm.
He also spent $147,577 for Washington, DC, lawyer John Kern and $174,303 for Watkins, Meegan, Drury & Co., a firm that offers forensic accounting and legal services.
In addition, the House also allows lawmakers to set up legal defense funds — something Rangel has thus far not attempted to do. Having exhausted his ability to pay for counsel, however, Rangel is arguing that he hasn’t had enough time to take an alternative approach and the proceedings are denying him due process. Despite Butterfield’s motion, the hearing is likely to continue following a closed-session vote in the Adjudicatory Subcommittee.