Now he is paying the price.
Rangel's ethical lapse in judgment has cost him his treasured chairmanship of the House's Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax law.
It seemed for a while that Rangel was going to retain his chairmanship, despite legitimate criticism from Republicans that someone who breaks serious House rules shouldn't be rewarded with one of the most powerful posts in Congress.
But it was Rangel's fellow Democrats who turned up the heat. They don't want to have to defend Rangel while fighting their own election battles this November.
So Rangel decided to fall on his own sword and step down from chairmanship. It's a sad decline for a man who had served New York's Harlem district since the days of Adam Clayton Powell.
But one question has to be asked:
What exactly was Rangel thinking by taking the corporate trip? He has been around way too long and knows way too much about Congressional rules to call his actions a mere oversight.
Rangel is also facing charges that he misused a rent-controlled apartment in New York and didn't disclose income he made from a villa in the Dominican Republic. He is also accused of taking a $1 million gift to the Charles Rangel Center at City College of New York in exchange for giving a tax break to the contributor.
Rangel predicts his return to the chairmanship. I wouldn't hold my breath for that.
Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Rangel is a founding member, have voiced support for Rangel and maintained he should have kept his post, but they are wrong.
Charlie Rangel, a U.S. House of Representatives institution, has clearly lost his way.