By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — New York Democrat Charles Rangel on Monday filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn a 2010 House decision to censure him for financial wrongdoing.
The suit contends that staff and members of the House Ethics Committee that conducted the probe against the Harlem lawmaker willfully suppressed evidence of misconduct in how the investigation was conducted, and that had the facts been known there would have been a "different outcome."
The 82-year-old Rangel, whose four-decade-long career in the House was blemished by the financial scandal, continues "to suffer irreparable harm that cannot be compensated by money damages," Rangel's lawyer, Jay Goldberg, writes in the suit.
The complaint states that had the committee's chief counsel told the lawmaker of improprieties in how the probe was conducted, Rangel would have made a motion to dismiss the case against him.
The committee "acted knowingly, intentionally and willfully to frustrate the goal of assuring adherence to plaintiff's due process rights," it said.
The suit was filed against House Speaker John Boehner, then-Ethics Committee chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., five Republicans then serving on the panel, and several staff members.
Rangel, in an emotional appearance on the House floor after the House voted 333-79 to censure him, acknowledged that he had made mistakes but asserted that at no time had he been dishonest or tried to enrich himself.
The committee found that Rangel had underpaid the IRS for 17 years by failing to pay taxes on income from a rental unit in a Dominican Republic resort, had filed misleading financial disclosure reports, had set up a campaign office in the Harlem building where he lived that had been designated for residential use only and had used congressional letterheads to solicit donations for a center named after him at City College of New York.
It was only the 23rd time in the House's history that a member was censured, the most severe punishment short of expulsion.
Before becoming embroiled in the ethics case Rangel had chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, the influential panel that writes tax policy.
There was no immediate comment from Boehner's office on the lawsuit.