Thursday, December 02, 2010

Alaska Congressman Don Young One Of Only Two Republicans To Vote Against Censuring Charles Rangel; 92 Percent Of Congressional Black Caucus Votes Against Censure

On December 2nd, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 333-79 to formally censured Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York), who was found guilty in November by an ethics panel of 11 counts of financial and fundraising misconduct. Rangel became the 23rd congressman in the history of the House to be censured. The censure is designated H.Res. 1737. To their credit, 170 of Wrangel's fellow Democrats joined in the Yes vote; read the full roll call vote HERE. Rangel was among those voting No.

But among the 79 voting against censure were two Republicans; Rep. Peter King (R-NY), and our very own Congressman Don Young. The Alaska Politics blog reported that Young said that he has never voted to censure anyone, and that he believes such judgment should be up to the voters rather than the Congress. This is rather weak reasoning, since a Congressional censure is an expression of peer disapproval and can be considered a form of peer discipline. Congressman Young has been under fire from some House Republicans over the recently-and-favorably-concluded Department of Justice investigation of him as well as his refusal to join in a House Republican boycott of earmarks, and was stripped of minority leadership positions as a result.

Congressman Young did vote Yes in favor of an amendment which would have delivered a milder expression of disapproval of Rangel. Alaska Politics said it would have lightened the punishment to a rebuke, but MSNBC more correctly describes it as a "reprimand". The difference between a reprimand and censure is that censure is accompanied by a formal oral rebuke; Rangel would stand before his colleagues at the front of the chamber, known as the "well", where the resolution of censure would be read by the Speaker of the House. In any event, the amendment to reduce the punishment to a reprimand failed, with 267 voting No, and only 146 voting Yes.

Rangel was convicted in an ethics trial by a panel of lawmakers on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing, including his use of House letterheads and staff to solicit money for a college center named after him. Rangel also filed a decade's worth of misleading financial statements understating his assets and converted a subsidized New York apartment — designated for residential use — into a campaign office. Other tenants who violated their lease got evicted. The tax issue was a sore point for several members of the ethics committee, who said it was especially egregious that a former chairman of the House's tax-writing committee failed for 17 years to pay taxes on the income from his island villa. It's unclear how much Rangel owes in taxes. An ethics committee document indicated he owed $16,775 as of 1990, but Rangel has paid some of his back taxes.

Since Charles Rangel is Black, some people might be interested in how House members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted. It's actually quite easy; of the 39 House members of the CBC, all of whom are Democrat, only one (Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama) voted Yes. Two (Reps. Alcee Hastings and Kendrick Meek of Florida) abstained. The other 36 voted No, which means that 92 percent of the CBC voted against censuring one of their own homeboys. This constituted 45 percent of the Democratic No votes. In contrast, only 30 percent of all Democrats combined voted against censuring Rangel.

Now tell me the CBC didn't vote their race. Great "role models" for the Black community, eh?


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