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Rangel Birthday Bash Back on Political A-List

By Jeff Mays | August 8, 2011 6:04pm
Charles Rangel at 2010's  birthday fundraiser.
Charles Rangel at 2010's birthday fundraiser.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

HARLEM—This time last year, Rep. Charles Rangel was facing ethics violations charges and the most difficult re-election campaign of his 40 year congressional career.

Even some Democrats began moving away from the "dean" of New York's congressional delegation, with several defections from his popular birthday party fundraiser before Democrats and the likes of Mayor Michael Bloomberg rallied around him.

This year, as Rangel's fundraiser for his 81st birthday approaches Wednesday, it's all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Not only will the "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin headline the event at the Plaza Hotel in Midtown, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are confirmed guests along with state Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

"It shows they support me," Rangel told DNAinfo about this year's guest list.

Rangel won both the primary and November general election by landslides.

Shortly afterward, he was found guilty of 11 ethics violations, including improperly placing his campaign headquarters in a rent-controlled apartment, failing to pay taxes on rental revenue from a home he owned in the Dominican Republic and soliciting donations from organizations with business before the Ways and Means Committee — which he had chaired — to create a center at City College to be named in his honor.

The House voted to censure Rangel by a vote of 333 to 79 after he had called for the less serious punishment of reprimand because there were no findings of corruption.

The House decision still stings, said Rangel.

"I will never have that too far from my thinking," he said.

But the 21-term congressman says he has moved on.

"Some people said I should remember that I'm not chairman of Ways and Means, and I say tell me who is. If you are not in the majority, it doesn't matter," said Rangel. "I'm thinking about the re-election campaign and helping the president to create some jobs."

Franklin was supposed to headline last year's fundraiser but was not well. Tickets for this year's event range from $200 to $10,000. Rangel said party participants may be in for a surprise.

"They might expect a song or two from me, I might give a state of the Congress address or I may bring out my list of people from the Tea Party," he said.