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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Charles Rangel - Reprimand, Censure, or Wristslap

Charles Rangel is the former House chairman for the "taxation and extortion" committee. He was the subject of an ethics investigation.

The result was a "censure". A censure includes zero fine and zero other penalties. All a censure means is that the other Congressmen say "You did a naughty! Don't do it again!" A censure is considered slightly stricter than a reprimand. The main difference between a censure and a reprimand is that the defendant must be physically present when the censure is read.

The House could kick Charles Rangel out. However, that would require a 2/3 vote. "Getting kicked out of Congress" is a penalty reserved for heroes like Jim Traficant, who was jailed as a political prisoner. Congressman Traficant is one of the few Congressmen to publicly criticize the Federal Reserve.

Another penalty is that you can lose your seniority. Rangel did lose his committee chairmanship. He would have lost it now anyway, because the Republicans are going to be a majority.

Amusingly, Charles Rangel is contesting the penalty. He is arguing "I should get a reprimand and not a censure." That's silly, because the penalty for a censure is nothing.

The only time I saw Charles Rangel speak was when Jon Stewart was ridiculing him. See Charles Rangel makes me want to move to his district and run against him.

That's the real embarrassment. It isn't the silly censure penalty. Why was he reelected? The Republicans didn't put any effort into their candidate. Why didn't another Democrat challenge him in the primary?

That's one of the problems with the voting system. Incumbents get too big an advantage. Why would someone donate money/bribes to his opponent, when Rangel is a big favorite to be reelected? Even with this huge scandal, Rangel was easily reelected.

The embarrassment is not "Rangel got a censure!" The embarrassment is that he was reelected and nobody seriously challenged him.

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