POLITICS

Obama fundraises with once-censured Rangel

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

President Obama singled out Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., for praise during a campaign fundraiser last night, seeming to complete the political rehabilitation of the lawmaker whose colleagues censured him in 2010 for 11 ethics violations.

"I also want to acknowledge a couple of outstanding members of Congress with us here today -- Congressman Charlie Rangel and Congressman Jerry Nadler are in the house," Obama said as a prefatory comment to his speech at the Apollo Theater. Rangel represents the House district in which the fundraiser took place.

Obama's embrace of Rangel last night comes 13 months after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted by a very wide margin to censure Rangel for ethics violations, some of which related to finances. The chair of the panel that investigated Rangel, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said at the time that there was "cleare and convincing evidence" that Rangel had broken rules, although the panel's legal counsel added that there was "no evidence of corruption" on Rangel's part.

Even so, Rangel caused political embarrassment for House Democrats during a tough election year, as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had promised to "drain the swamp" of congressional ethics when she took the gavel. "I just apologize for the awkward position that some of you are in," Rangel told his House colleagues.

Pelosi first brought Rangel in from the political cold two months ago, when she headlined the fundraiser for him in the nation's capitol. Now, President Obama has, too.

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