Rep. Charles Rangel Fighting to Clear His Name

The veteran congressman says his due process rights were violated in ethics probe.

Posted: 04/23/2013 11:25 AM EDT

New York Rep. Charles Rangel in 2010 became the first congressman in nearly three decades to be censured by Congress, following an ethics probe into financial improprieties. On Monday he filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Washington to overturn the censure.

Rangel, 82, is claiming that there were "numerous, flagrant, knowing and intentional violations of his right to due process," USA Today reports, including a meeting in which two ethics committee aides secretly briefed Republican members on the investigation. He also said that he suffers "irreparable harm that cannot be compensated by money damages."

The lawsuit names seven fellow lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chaired the House Ethics Committee at the time of the censure.

Censure is just one step below expulsion, making it the second-worst punishment a lawmaker can receive from his or her colleagues. Rangel's colleagues voted 333-79 to censure him in December 2010 for failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. He was also accused of using his influence as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee to seek donations for a center that the City College of New York planned to build in his name.

Despite his defiance throughout the investigation and his ultimate fall from grace, the humiliation and anguish he felt was palpable. Still, the raspy-voiced congressman that year handily beat five primary challengers and returned to Capitol Hill for another term.

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(Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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