Published: Jul 23, 2010 11:55 AM EDT
Updated: Jul 23, 2010 8:59 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Charles Rangel, who has spent half of his

80 years as a member of Congress, says he looks forward to fighting

ethics charges. Other Democrats won't be so pleased.

The ethics trial sought by the New York congressman and former

Ways and Means Committee chairman will coincide with campaign

season. Democrats will have to defend their party's conduct. If

enough of them lose, the party could cede control of the House.

Republicans are already going negative, reminding voters that

Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" of ethical

misdeeds in Congress.

Rangel had a choice.

His lawyer had been negotiating with the House ethics committee

to settle his case. But to end it, Rangel would have had to accept

the allegations. Rangel had been willing to accept some, but that

didn't satisfy the committee, according to a person familiar with

the talks but not authorized to be quoted by name.

"I look forward to airing this thing," Rangel, who is tied for

fourth in House seniority, told reporters Thursday, insisting the

allegations against him have no substance.

"I am pleased that, at long last, sunshine will pierce the

cloud of serious allegations that have been raised against me in

the media," he said.

It was disclosed Thursday that Rangel is being charged with

multiple ethics violations. The ethics committee won't reveal the

specific charges until next Thursday at a public meeting. However,

several persons familiar with the allegations, who were not

authorized to discuss them publicly, said some of the charges

against Rangel, who has spent 40 years in Congress, were related

to:

-Rangel's use of official stationery to raise money for the

Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New

York.

-His use of four rent-subsidized apartment units in New York

City. The city's rent stabilization program is supposed to apply to

one's primary residence. One had been used as a campaign office,

raising a separate question of whether the rent break was an

improper gift.

-Rangel's failure to report income as required on his annual

financial disclosure forms. The committee had investigated his

failure to report income from the lawmaker's rental unit at the

Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic. Rangel also

belatedly disclosed hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment

assets.

Sanctions can range from a damaging committee report to censure

by the House and even expulsion, a punishment reserved for only the

most egregious violations.

Ironically, Rangel raised money for scores of Democratic

candidates before his ethics problems surfaced. Now, many Democrats

wouldn't touch a contribution from Rangel's leadership fund and

might pressure him to accept the charges or even get out of his

re-election race.

Rangel announced a bid for his 21st term recently, shortly

before his 80th birthday. To many in his famed Harlem district of

New York City, Rangel is the only congressman they've known. Older

constituents remember him as a Korean War hero with a Purple Heart

and Bronze Star.

"If you ask me how I feel about it, I feel extraordinarily good

that my supporters over 40 years will be able to evaluate what they

have come up with and I don't have any fear at all politically or

personally what they come up with," he said.

Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said the action taken against

Rangel "would indicate that the independent, bipartisan ethics

committee process is moving forward."

The last time a Rangel ethics case moved forward, the ethics

committee concluded earlier this year that the lawmaker violated

House rules on two trips to Caribbean conferences. The committee

said Rangel should have known that corporate money paid for the

trips.

Rangel, still chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means

Committee at the time, initially said he wouldn't step down from

his post. After a closed-door meeting with Pelosi while reporters

waited outside, Rangel changed his mind. He stepped aside from a

chairmanship he may never get back, because of concerns that

staying in the position would hurt other Democrats.

This time, he decided to fight on.