Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) argued that the whatever sanction was levied against Rangel should be consistent with precedent. "He knows he messed up," Scott said. Censure would be "singularly harsh and unfair and without precedent."
King also spoke in support of reducing the punishment to a reprimand, but upped the ante on the rhetoric. Censure is to a reprimand as the death penalty is to prison, King said, while noting that he and Rangel "disagree on virtually every issue."
Rangel has been lobbying his fellow House members in recent weeks to vote to punish him with a reprimand instead of a censure. His office even posted a chart on his website to help make the case that his violations were not worthy of censure. The Congressional Black Caucus got in on the act, too, whipping all Congress members on whether they supported the lesser punishment of reprimand rather than the censure according to Politico.
Six Rangel supporters spoke on the 80-year-old congressman's behalf at a closed-door Democratic meeting just hours before the House voted on his punishment, the Associated Press reported.
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The motion to censure the longtime congressman was filed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), chairwoman of the ethics panel.
Abbe Lowell, a lawyer who accompanied Rangel at his appearance before the House ethics committee last month, told TPM that he was disappointed he didn't get a chance to represent Rangel. The New York member had complained that the panel was denying him his due process rights since he couldn't afford to pay for a lawyer.
"It is really clear under the precedent of the House that the appropriate sanction for what the committee found is reprimand. And if the House doesn't follow its precedence, than there's no reason to have them," Lowell said. "That's what happens when somebody is unrepresented, the other side gets their way."