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Rangel Seeks Lighter Penalty for Ethics Violations

Charlie Rangel
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is pursued by reporters and photographers after unexpectedly leaving his House of Representatives ethics committee hearing in the Longworth House Office Building November 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. Rangel claimed that the proceeding was unfair because the subcommittee did not allow him time to hire a laywer or look over the evidence against him. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) wants the House of Representatives to give him a lighter punishment for his ethics violations than some of his colleagues have suggested, the Associated Press reports.

After finding Rangel to be guilty of 11 of 13 violations of House ethics rules, the House ethics committee earlier this month voted 9 to one to recommend that the full House censure Rangel. However, the 80-year-old Democrat from Harlem wants his punishment to be downgraded to a reprimand, unnamed sources told the AP.

After the House ethics committee voted to recommend a censure, Rangel released a public statement saying it would be "inappropriate" for him to comment on the matter. However, Rangel reportedly will ask ethics committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) for time to make his case on the House floor before his peers decide his punishment.

A censure is the most severe form of punishment the House could impose on Rangel short of expelling him from Congress. (Rangel this month easily won re-election in his Harlem district.) Rangel would reportedly argue that Congress has previously censured members for violations like bribery, accepting improper gifts and sexual misconduct -- charges more serious than his own .

A panel of the ethics committee found Rangel guilty of charges that included submitting misleading annual disclosures of his income and assets, the improper use of a subsidized New York apartment, and improperly using official resources to raise funds from businesses and foundations for a center named after him at the City College of New York.

Jo Bonner, the top Republican on the House ethics committee, blasted Rangel for laying blame on others and "showing so little regard and respect either for the institution that he has claimed to love or for the people of his district in New York that he has claimed to proudly represent for more than 40 years."

If the House were to censure Rangel, he would have to appear at the front of the House chamber -- called the "well" -- to receive an oral rebuke from the Speaker of the House. If the House were to reprimand him, members would simply vote on the matter.



Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.