Since I teach ethics, I try to make some effort to keep up with current ethical issues. As such, it is hardly surprising that I have been following Charles Rangel for a while. He is, of course, well know for being accused of numerous ethics violations.
Today was supposed to be the start of his ethics trial in congress. The pundits had been predicting that the trial would take place and that Rangel would not (or would not be able) to postpone it any more. Curious to see what would happen, I put CNN on. Rangel made a brief appearance and asserted that he would not take part in the proceedings and left the room. The
Like many folks, I was mildly surprised. After all, people who are on trial generally do not get the option to simply depart the proceedings. Apparently such things work differently for congressmen in general and Rangel in particular. The proceedings did, however, continue despite his absence.
While his actions did raise some questions, I was mainly interested in why he wanted yet another delay. After all, the Republicans will be the majority in the House when the newly elected congressmen are seated and they will presumably not be favorably inclined towards Rangel. As such, it would seem to make sense for Rangel to get things over now, while his party still controls the House.
Of course, maybe he wanted to drag things out in the hopes that the Democrats will be more willing to let things slide or at least do very little in regards to the violations. After all, the Democrats almost certainly do not want to risk losing a seat (although that seat would probably go to another Democrat). There is also the fact that Rangel is rather influential and very popular in his home district (he won with a significant majority).
There is also the possibility that Rangel wanted the delay for exactly the reasons he claims: he needs to raise money for his legal defense (and those lawyers do not come cheap). Or perhaps he was hoping he could just keep dragging things out-perhaps until his retirement.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out.