It's the kind of a description that causes a double take. A long-serving Congressman, being investigated for Ethics violations, has his career described as "shining." On Tuesday' Today show, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, reporting on liberal Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel's appearance before the Ethics committee actually painted his time in the House of Representatives this way: "Back in Congress one long and shining career is on the line in a rare public trial." O'Donnell did go on to note Rangel was "facing 13 ethics rules violations."
The following is an excerpt from O'Donnell's report as it was aired on the November 16 Today show:
[On Screen headline: "Sorry Charlie, Rangel Faces Ethics Hearing On His Own"]
KELLY O'DONNELL: Back in Congress one long and shining career is on the line in a rare public trial.
REP. CHARLIE RANGEL: I am being denied the right to have a lawyer right now.
O'DONNELL: Claiming he can't afford new lawyers, New York Democrat Charlie Rangel was on his own, facing 13 ethics rule violations.
BLAKE CHISAM, HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE COUNSEL: Count three, a violation of the gift rule.
O'DONNELL: Counts involving the use of his office and staff for fundraising, failure to report all his income and pay some taxes.
CHISAM: He affirmatively stated that he did not have income and the documents indicate that he did.
O'DONNELL: Rangel left the hearing in protest saying he spent $2 million on lawyers and needed time to raise more money for his defense. And in this kind of situation, he's not able to get free legal help because that would be considered a violation of the gift rule as well. Now the committee went forward saying Rangel has known this was coming for a long time, they want to finish up before this Congress ends. And we're not talking about anything criminal here. If he is found guilty of these offenses, it could result in something like a reprimand from his colleagues.