Charles Rangel, censured in 2010, gets official House portrait
Forget what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about there being no second acts in life. A portrait of Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), a former chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, was unveiled in the committee’s hearing room today before a cheering crowd.
That’s the same 81-year-old Rangel who was censured by his colleagues last year for ethical misconduct.
Rangel, who received tributes from members of both parties for his four decades in Congress, basked in the moment, making only slight reference to his past troubles.
"I can’t wait to see how the New York Post handles it," he joked, referring to the tabloid's coverage of the portrait's unveiling.
Rangel, whose memoir is titled "And I Haven't Had A Bad Day Since," a reference to his brush with death as a Korean War infantryman, was joined by his wife, Alma, in the ceremony attended by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francsico), and members of the Congressional Black Caucus and New York congressional delegation, among others.
The House honors committee chairmen by placing their portraits in hearing rooms.
Rangel's portrait, paid for using $64,500 from the congressman’s political fund, joins those of other former chairmen, including Wilbur D. Mills (D-Ark.), remembered for his night out in 1974 with ex-stripper Fanne Foxe, and Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), who served 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to mail fraud.
The artist is Simmie Knox, who did official White House portraits of President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
A House ethics panel last year found Rangel guilty of 11 ethics violations. Rangel argued that his violations were due to carelessness.
"My life is the story that anyone can make it, from high school dropout to having been chair of this great committee,'' Rangel said Thursday at the ceremony.
-- Richard Simon in Washington
Photo: Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) thanks friends, family and congressional colleagues as his official portrait is unveiled in the Ways and Means Committee Room on Capitol Hill. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press