Rangel Denies Wrongdoing in Ethics Case

The official investigation began two years ago at the request of Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) himself who defiantly asked the ethics committee to look into his actions.

Rangel is known for saying he hadn't had a bad day since he survived battle in the Korean War. On Thursday he said that changed, reports CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.

"Today I have to reassess that statement," he said.

At the heart of the 13 counts is what critics have called Rangel's "monument to me," a presidential-library-like project called "The Rangel Center" at City College in New York. It was the subject of a CBS News investigation in 2007.

Rangel is charged with using public resources and Congressional letterhead to ask for big donations for the Rangel Center; that he solicited companies that had business before the tax committee he led at the time, including Goldman Sachs, Wachovia and dozens more; that he asked for $30 million from Verizon and New York Life, and $10 million from insurance giant AIG.

Rangel's attorneys responded that "The uncontroverted evidence is that Congressman Rangel never suggested that any donor to the Rangel Center would receive favorable consideration in legislative matters and never gave preferential treatment to any contributor."

Read the 32-page response from Rangel's attorneys

He's also charged with directing taxpayer earmarks to the center; failing to disclose income, checking accounts, stock and property; and improperly using rent-subsidized apartments for his campaign committees.

The stage is now set for the kind of spectacle that many of Rangel's colleagues had hoped to avoid. The last ethics trial was in 2002. James Traficant had been convicted of bribery and corruption.

Traficant's defense? Point fingers at colleagues who'd been found guilty of having sex with young pages but were not expelled.

At one point Traficant asked, "Is sex with a minor 17 years old rape?" When a colleague began to answer, Traficant continued, "And a felony, sir?"

In Rangel's case, he denies wrongdoing. The trial should begin in September.
  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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