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Rep. Charles Rangel Case on Ethics Violations Term Paper

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Updated: Apr 18th, 2021

Introduction to the case

Rep. Charles B. Rangel is one of the biggest personalities of the House of Representatives as well as one of the most enduring politicians in the United States. The lawmaker hails from historic Harlem in the city of New York. Rangel, 80, was born on June 11, 1930, in New York. His heroic side was revealed during the Korean War, from which he received a number of medals for his bravery.

When he came back from the war, Rangel became a civil rights activist and a lawyer, eventually winning a seat in the Representatives House (Confessore, 2010). The congressman made America’s history by becoming the chair of the influential Ways and Means Committee. He is also one of the congress members who founded the Congressional Black Caucus. Re. Rangel contributed a great deal to the historic health care reform law under the Obama administration. With a political career spanning 40 years now, he is still a representative in Congress, this being his 21st term.

Recently, the congressman, master lawmaker, was found guilty by the Representative House of violating 13 rules of the congressional rules regarding his numerous fundraising as well as personal financial dealings. The ethics committee is investigating Re. Rangel established that the lawmaker had violated a number of ethical rules ranging from his personal House conduct, inappropriate utilization of apartments that are rent-controlled, federal financial disclosure, pay to play fundraisings, as well as the rules of filing federal income tax. It is unfortunate that all the alleged ethical violations would have gone unnoticed by the House ethics in other eras without any checks (Roberts, 2011).

Ethics

The term morality and ethics derive their meaning from Latin and Greek, respectively. These two terms are used interchangeably to denote values and rules of conduct. The term ethics also means moral philosophy such as moral belief justification as well as a careful evaluation of meaning. Accordingly, leadership and ethics have time and again been construed as jointly reinforce notions. On the one hand, ethics is a set of internal moral reasoning and codes that are founded on prescriptive norms, and societal leadership is the actions that direct as well as influence performance for purposes of achieving collective and organizational goals. As such, individual ethical suitability in relation to the behavior of a leader is often than not weigh up in terms of the leader’s regulatory beliefs of how they should or should not conduct themselves (Frederickson, 2004).

Within the public.lsector, therefore, were the leaders like in the case study of Rep. Charles B. Rangel where they are called upon to maintain contradictory and at times differing ethical responsibility levels, and it is widely expected that the leader’s concern should be the various idealized and archetypal expectations of the persons who gave them the mandate to represent them. In recent years characterized by high profile tumble in public administration, the public has been very keen on the ethical conduct of leaders in the public sector.

These leaders are frequently exposed to moral as well as ethical judgment, and the standard of their ethical conduct is becoming higher every day. According to Menzel (2007), the increase in awareness coupled with the evolving societal values is the key player of rejuvenated public concern in ethics and moral management. For that reason, the public has become more demanding as well as very aggressive towards their public sector administrators, exhibiting zero tolerance for administrators structural challenges, shortcomings, and negligent mistakes.

It is in the above spirit that Rep. Charles B. Rangel as an administrator of public trust, is generally expected to strictly adhere to higher ethical standards than those associated with personal morality because, as a leader, he has a responsibility towards those he is representing. It is generally agreed that there are several principles of public life that should be adhered to by public trust administrators: these ethical principles include selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, leadership, and honesty (Cooper, 2012).

Honesty is one of the ethical codes that any public leader must conform to. The code is to the effect that a public officer has a responsibility to declare all his private interests allied to the responsibilities and take forthwith measures to determine any quarrels arising and protect the interests of the public at the same time (Menzel & Bowman, 2007). In the case study of Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the congressman violated this ethical principle as he dishonestly fields financial disclosures that are misleading in the federal financial reports for over a decade. In so doing, the congressman left out a lot of assets as well as money that he owned. This was outright dishonesty on his part to the housed he served, and more so to the people, he was representing.

Under accountability, Rep. Charles B. Rangel as an administrator of public trust violated the code of ethics of accounting for his actions and decisions relating to the public office he held. This can be substantiated by the fact that the congressman deliberately declined to submit himself to whatever scrutiny necessary to his office. Re Rangel field financial disclosures that are misleading about his financial status, and this would only mean that the acquisition of the hidden asset money and assets was unaccountable, thus violating the ethical principle of accountability.

Accountability

Before 2008, the public sector system was largely unaccountable and secret. However, with the introduction of the (OCE) office of Congressional Ethics, many congressmen were exposed to public scrutiny like never before. Rep. Charles B. Rangel, one of the most enduring lawmaker, was not spared by the wrath of this office when it was discovered that he has some serious ethical issues to be investigated. Since the Democrats took the administration, the case of Re. Rangel is seen to be the party’s utmost profile test with its promise to tidy up the public sector (Klenfield, 2010).

In an ironic twist of event, Rep. Charles B. Rangel made a request to the committee of the House to investigate him following allegations advanced by the press against him. It took the committee about two years for the eight members House Committee on ethics to make its findings that would ultimately see the lawmaker charged with violating ethical standards. There are allegations that it took the pressure of the press and other outside groups for the House members to investigate their colleagues.

The Office of Congress released a report on February 26, 2010, detailing that Rep. Charles B. Rangel had indeed violated ethical standards through several actions and decisions he had made. According to one of the Ethics Committee member Rep. Michael McCaul, the investigation found out that Rep. Charles B. Rangel had about 13 ethical violations charges ranging from the filing of federal income tax, personal House conduct to financial disclosure. The committee, therefore, found that there was overwhelming proof of house rules as well as ethical violations related to the following areas: the lawmaker accepted from a Manhattan developer an apartment that was rent-stabilized; Rep. Charles B. Rangel also used for his campaign office an apartment in Harlem. This apartment was also rent-stabilized.

In addition, the report found that the senator failed to report on his financial disclosure a total of 600,000 dollars (Shear, 2010). According to the report, the aforementioned amount of money was the total amount derived from the rental income of Dominican Villa, numerous financial reimbursements from his improper use of his franking privileges and office, and also from the New York rental stabilized apartments.

Further, it was established that Rep. Charles B. Rangel filed deceptive reports of financial disclosure for the last ten years, thus concealing the real amount of assets and money he possessed (Nate, 2010). As if that was not enough, the senator failed to pay rental taxes from the Dominican Republic villa, which he owned. The investigation revealed that Rep. Charles B. Rangel received some income from the Punta Can Yacht Club, which personal income was not revealed to the relevant financial forms despite documentary proof of receipt.

Furthermore, the senator violated the federal statute and House gift ban that prohibit members of the House from soliciting from any person anything of value, and that personal interest may be affected significantly by members’ performance or nonperformance of his bureaucratic responsibilities.

The investigation unveiled that his phone records, documents as well as emails proved that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee of which he was the chairperson. The senator misused his congressional privileges by soliciting in the congressional premises charities and sending private business letters using the mail of the House.

Rep. Charles B.’s creation of a center for public service at the New York City College raises questions of his accountability. The lawmaker funded his project through donations got from lobbyists and companies affiliated with the committee. Finally, the congressman did not comply with the ethic requirement of a complete and full statement in relation to his assets as spelled out under the Government Act.

Prevention

Amendment of the existing code can go a long way in preventing the future violation of the set standards. Institutional vision or mission statement may be used to guide the amendment. In this way, the values set out in the code will be a reflection of the institutional objectives. The code may also be used to highlight the characteristics of a professional civil servant (Svara, 2007).

Study shows that many countries have never clearly outlined to whom the public workers are accountable as well as who they work for (Nichols, 2010). By clearly defining the duties and responsibility of public workers through ethics revisions, the realization of public service reforms can suffice. According to Frederickson, 2004, the existence of an effective code can be essential in designing merit based on public service and a viable legal system. The relationship between the code and reform is, therefore, a two-way concept where the reforms can be the catalyst for designing effective code or codes that may also be catalysts for reforms. The environment of the country should also be put into consideration.

Involving the public in the designing of the codes can also bring better reforms in the public trust administration. The public is in a better position to give suggestions on how they would want their representatives to handle themselves in the public office as well as outline their expectations. In this regard, the ethical code will encompass the key values that the public would want to promote amongst administrators of public trust as well as the behavior they want to prohibit (Dean & Garofalo, 2011).

Legislative participation in designing and implementing the code can also go a long way in re-engineering the government and adherence to ethical codes. This may, in turn, bring the better performance of the public administrators to their satisfaction and the satisfaction of the public in general. Through the involvement of the legislators, it can be easy to use the code as a road map that can address institutional vulnerability and risk of corruption.

On discovery that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was guilty of violating the ethical standard of the Congress House, he was forced by the Office of Congress Ethics to relinquish his influential seat as the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The resignation of the congressman from his influential position was one of the preventive measures taken by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics to see to it that Rep. Charles B. Rangel does not abuse his privileges and powers as he had earlier done for personal gain.

Economic, consequences and outcomes

There were a number of economic consequences that emanated from the violation of ethical standards by Rep. Charles B. Rangel. The report on his investigation found that the lawmaker violated filing of federal income tax, personal House conduct, to financial disclosure. In addition to violating the forgoing economic policies, the senator also used his influential office to economically exploit companies and lobbyists, which had any business before the Ways and Means Committee in which he was the chairman.

The government lost hundreds of thousands of uncollected taxes from Rep. Charles B. Rangel, who presented misleading financial reports for over a decade that he had served as a congressman. The report released by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics indicated that the lawmaker filed deceptive reports of financial disclosure for the last ten years, thus concealing the real amount of assets and money he possessed. Additionally, the senator failed to pay rental taxes from the Dominican Republic villa, which he owned. The investigation further revealed that Rep. Charles B. Rangel received some income from the Punta Can Yacht Club, which personal income was not revealed to the relevant financial forms despite documentary proof of receipt.

Furthermore, the committee probing the case of Rep. Charles B. Rangel found that the senator failed to report on his financial disclosure a total of 600,000 dollars. This was a huge economic loss. According to the report, the aforementioned amount of money was the total amount derived from the rental income of Dominican Villa, numerous financial reimbursements from his improper use of his franking privileges and office, and also from the New York rental stabilized apartments (Brandt, 2010).

The investigation unveiled that his phone records, documents as well as emails proved that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee of which he was the chairperson. This was an outright economic exploitation scheme by the senator.

Evidence

In the investigation of the case of Rep. Charles B. Rangel, the House constituted an independent Office of Congressional Ethics committee with eight members, four Republicans, and four Democrats. It took about two years for the House Committee on ethics to make its findings that would ultimately see the lawmaker charged with violating ethical standards.

The Ethics Committee, for purposes of investigating the senator, applied the ethical requirement and standards set out under the Government Act. The Act requires that a lawmaker must present a complete and full statement in relation to his assets and personal income. Rep. Charles B. Rangel failed to comply with these standards. The committee found that the lawmaker filed deceptive reports of financial disclosure for the last ten years, thus concealing the real amount of assets and money he possessed. Additionally, the senator failed to pay rental taxes from the Dominican Republic villa, which he owned. The investigation further revealed that Rep. Charles B. Rangel received some income from the Punta Can Yacht Club.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics also applied the House gift ban and federal statute that prohibit members of the House from soliciting from any person anything of value, and that personal interest may be affected significantly by members’ performance or nonperformance of his bureaucratic responsibilities. Under the standards set out in this statute, the committee of ethics found out that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee of which he was the chairperson. The senator also violated and misused his congressional privileges by soliciting in the congressional premises charities and sending private business letters using the mail of the House.

Legal and regulatory framework

In any successful legal and regulatory framework on ethics regime, there must be effective executive or parliamentary orders, regulations, and law. Nevertheless, other regulatory and statutory devices can be of great importance in ensuring that the code of ethics is complied with strictly. It is also worth noting that the institutions responsible for the enforcement and interpretation of the code of ethics are an integral part of the framework without which the laws, regulations, statutory orders, and the like would not have the desired effect.

A good legal framework on ethics is critical and should be enforceable, concise, and clear. If the legal framework falls short of any of the three characteristics is enough to render the code of ethics less effective or even completely ineffective. The legal framework on ethics should not be too rigid to look at inconsequential mistakes and problems, but rather it should address the most important factors affecting ethical issues.

In the case of Rep. Charles B. Rangel, there were a number of laws and rules apply. These laws and rules included the Government Act, the House gift ban, and federal statute. The Ethics Committee, for purposes of investigating the senator, applied the ethical requirement and standards set out under the Government Act. The Act is to the effect that a lawmaker must present a complete and full statement in relation to his assets and personal income. In addition, the House gift ban and the federal statute was also used in the case (Brandt, 2010). The statute prohibits members of the House from soliciting from any person anything of value, and that personal interest may be affected significantly by members’ performance or nonperformance of his bureaucratic responsibilities.

Incentives and justifications

In his justification of the allegation that his phone records, documents as well as emails proved that Rep.Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee of which he was the chairperson.

The senator justified his action by arguing that all those who made their donations did it of their own free will and that they were his friends, contrary to the belief that because they had some issues in the committee, he chaired. The senator further argued that not all the donations were made by those on the committee business (Memoli & Matea, 2010). The senator misused his congressional privileges by soliciting in the congressional premises charities and sending private business letters using the mail of the House.

Political and bureaucratic environment

The case in issue revolves around Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, who became the first African American congress member in the history of America to head the influential Ways and Means Committee. He is also one of the congress members who founded the Congressional Black Caucus. Re. Rangel contributed a great deal to the historic health care reform law under the Obama administration (Memoli & Matea, 2010). Now serving his 21st term in Congress, his political career began over 40 years ago when he ousted a longtime incumbent, and since then, he has remained a representative (Gay, 2011).

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a Democrat, is one of the most enduring lawmakers. He was not, however, spared by the fury of the committee of ethics when it was discovered that he had some serious ethical issues to be investigated. Since the Democrats took the administration, the case of Re. Rangel is seen to be the party’s utmost profile test with its promise to tidy up the public sector. The lawmaker was eventually charged in around two years on ethical standards violations courtesy of the committee of ethics (Ernst, 2010). It was proven that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee, of which he was the chairperson.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel failed to report on his financial disclosure a total of 600,000 dollars. This amount of money was the total amount derived from the rental income of Dominican Villa, numerous financial reimbursements from his improper use of his franking privileges and office, and also from the New York rental stabilized apartments (Barrett, 2010).

Media and other nongovernmental entities

The role of the media and nongovernmental organization in the case of Rep. Charles B. Rangel cannot be underestimated.

The press was the whistleblower of corrupting allocations against the lawmaker before even the committee of ethics was formed to investigate the ethical conduct of the senator (Mcfadden & MacDonald, 2010). Rep. Charles B. Rangel made a request to the committee of the House to investigate him following allegations advanced by the press against him. Following the pressure from the media and non-governmental entities, a committee of ethics was formed to look into the matter.

It took the committee about two years for the eight members House Committee on ethics to make its findings that would ultimately see the lawmaker charged with violating ethical standards. It is alleged by some public groups that the members of the House would not have launched the investigation against their colleagues if it were not for the pressure exerted by other outside groups such as nongovernmental organizations as well as the press (Kocieniewski & Hernandez, 2010).

The press did not leave the case hanging even when the eight-member committee was formed. It kept the public in the limelight of what was developing during the investigations and the release of the report. According to Nichols (2010), even though Rep. Charles B. Rangel requested the committee to investigate his ethical conduct, it was solely because of the allegations lodged against him by the press. One can then rightly conclude that following the press allegations about the violation of ethical standards by

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, coupled with the pressure from other nongovernmental entities the Congress was left with no choice but to form a committee of ethics to probe one of their own (Mullins & Barrett, 2010).

Historical context

According to the history of the Senate since 1789, only 15 members have ever been expelled; 14 out of the 15 were found guilty and expelled during the civil war for supporting Confederacy. The remaining one was expelled from the chamber in 1797, as he was found guilty of treason as well as anti-Spanish conspiracy (Nate, 2010).

According to the records from the Senate, expulsion proceedings have been considered in several other instances by the Senate. However, the House fails to take any action before the member vacates the office, or sometimes the member is not found guilty of the allegations advanced. Most of these cases involved corruption allegations. A good example is an investigation launched against Se. Robert W. Packwood of Oregon in 1995. The lawmaker was charged with abuse of office and sexual misconduct by the Senate ethics committee (Shear, 2010). Even though the committee made its recommendations to the effect that the lawmaker is expelled, Se. Robert W. Packwood of Oregon resigned before he could be expelled.

In another instance, the Senate ethics committee charged and convicted New Jersey Sen. Harrison A. Williams Jr in 1982 with ethical issues pertaining to conflict of interest, conspiracy, and bribery. The Senate ethics committee has been, however, very secretive in its dealings relating to investigating the ethical conduct of the members and not until 2002 when the committee conducted a public trial of one of their own. In this trial, a Democrat Rep James A. Traficant was charged with corruption, expelled from the chambers, and also served his jail term (Kocieniewski, 2010). Having made the case of Re. Rangel public was a great step towards gaining public confidence in the Senate even though the members of the committee may be concerned about the public opinion on the matter.

Conclusion

Rep. Charles B. Rangel is one of the most enduring lawmakers; however, all his praises were socked in the soil after a discovery that, for a long time, he was violating the ethical standards of the House. A committee of 8 members was formed to investigate the conduct of the veteran lawmaker (Mcfadden & MacDonald, 2010). It took the House Committee on ethics about two years to make its findings on violation of ethical standards against the lawmaker.

Ultimately, the ethics committee investigating Re. Rangel established that the lawmaker had violated a number of ethical rules ranging from his personal House conduct, inappropriate utilization of apartments that are rent-controlled, federal financial disclosure, pay to play fundraisings, as well as the rules of filing federal income tax. It is unfortunate that all the alleged ethical violations would have gone unnoticed by the House ethics in other eras without any checks.

The investigation unveiled that his phone records, documents as well as emails proved that Rep. Charles B. Rangel was soliciting and raising charitable donations from corporate executives and corporate alike who had any issue in the Ways and Means Committee of which he was the chairperson. The senator misused his congressional privileges by soliciting in the congressional premises charities and sending private business letters using the mail of the House.

The lawmaker violated the ethical requirement and standards set out under the Government Act. The Act requires that a lawmaker must present a complete and full statement in relation to his assets and personal income. In addition, Rep. Charles B. Rangel violated the House gift ban and federal statute, which prohibits members of the House from soliciting from any person anything of value, and that person’s interest may be affected significantly by members’ performance or nonperformance of his bureaucratic responsibilities.

References

Barret, D. (2010). Rangel Found Guilty of Ethics Violations. New York Times, pp.23.

Brandt, J. (2010). Rangel Denies Misconduct Charges as Ethics Panel Meets to Decide His Fate Fox News, pp.12.

Confessore, N. (2010). Rangel Found Guilty of Ethics Violations. New York Times, pp. 7.

Cooper, T. (2012). The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role. NY: John Wiley & Sons.

Dean, G. & Garofalo, C. (2011). Practical Ethics in Public Administration. New York: Management Concepts.

Ernst, J. (2010). Rangel faces up to 13 charges concerning ethics and federal regulations covering public officials. Reuters (United States – Tags: Politics).

Frederickson, G. (2004). Ethics and public administration: Bureaucracies, public administration, and public policy. M.E: Sharpe.

Gay, A. (2011).Political Scandal: Charlie Rangel Unfairly Accused of Ethics Violations. The Wall Street Journal, pp. 25.

Kocieniewski, D. & Hernandez, R. (2010). Rangel Censured Over Violations of Ethics Rules. The Wall Street Journal, pp. 12.

Kocieniewski, D. (2010). Rangel Ethics Trial Looms. Wall Street Journal, pp. 14.

Klenfield, R. (2010). Rangel’s Hope for Leniency Is Dashed in House. New York Times, pp. 3.

MCFadden, R. & MacDonald, K. (2010). Rep. Charles Rangel (D) Charged With Ethics Violations. Fox News, pp.5.

Memoli, M. & Matea, B. ( 2010). Rep. Charles Rangel found guilty of 11 ethics violations. Tribune Washington Bureau, pp.4.

Menzel, D. & Bowman, J. (2008). Teaching ethics and values in public administration programs: innovations, strategies, and issues. London: Suny Press.

Menzel, D. (2007). Ethics management for public administrators: building organizations of integrity. M.E: Sharpe.

Mullins, B. & Barret, D. (2010). Rangel, Ex-Head of Tax-Writing Committee, Is Accused of Breaking Ethics Rules. New York Times, pp.9.

Nate, S. (2010). Ethics Panel Agrees to Facts Against Rangel. The Wall Street Journal, pp. 15.

Nichols, J. (2010). Rep. Charles Rangel Charged with 13 Counts of Ethics Violations. Wall Street Journal, pp. 7.

Roberts, S. (2011). Rangel Sells Condo That Resulted in Ethics Charge Fox News, pp. 10.

Shear, M. (2010). Rangel Starts Legal Defense Fund. New York Times, pp. 4.

Svara, J. (2007).The ethics primer for public administrators in government and nonprofit organizations. NY: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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