US & Canada

Democrat Charles Rangel walks out of ethics hearing

Charles Rangel
Image caption Mr Rangel on Monday asked the panel for time to find a new lawyer

A senior New York congressman has walked out of a hearing into alleged ethical violations in protest at its refusal to postpone the proceedings.

Charles Rangel, a Democrat, pleaded for a delay to raise money to fund his legal defence.

Mr Rangel, a powerful former committee chairman with 40 years in Congress, was accused of 13 ethical violations.

Among other charges, the ethics panel said he failed to disclose rental income and stock holdings.

In addition, Mr Rangel, 80, was accused of using official House of Representatives headed paper and other resources to solicit donations for a public policy programme named in his honour at New York's City College.

Mr Rangel was also accused of using rent-stabilised apartments in his district in New York City's high-priced rental market for office space instead of a residence, as required.

Undisputed facts

He has acknowledged being late filing taxes and disclosure forms but says he broke no rules.

After Mr Rangel on Monday morning left the hearing of the House ethics committee, which is composed of four Democrats and four Republicans, the panel went into a closed session to determine whether he had violated ethics rules.

The committee's chief counsel, Blake Chisam, said none of the facts of the case were in dispute.

Mr Rangel was first elected to Congress in 1970 from a heavily Democratic district in New York City. Despite the allegations against him he won re-election on 2 November with 80% of the vote.

He was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which handles tax legislation, from 2007 until March, when he stepped down amid the ethics allegations.

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