For months, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-NY, has been demanding quick action on the 13 ethics charges against him.
Today, when eight of his congressional colleagues finally began a public hearing into the charges against Rangel, the congressman changed his mind. Forty minutes into the proceedings, he demanded a delay until he could raise more money to hire attorneys.
When the panel refused his request, Rangel walked out, and the proceedings continued.
Rangel has already spent almost $2 million in legal fees on the case. Postponing the proceeding while he raises another million — and who would he raise it from? — means it would be delayed indefinitely. Since the facts in the case are not in serious dispute, and since Rangel’s expulsion from the House is not among the punishments being considered, the panel has every right and indeed the obligation to finish its job.
“Retention of counsel is up to the respondent,” as panel chairman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., correctly observed.