Tensions Rise in Maxine Waters Ethics Case

Members of the House Ethics Committee raised tensions even further with California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters and her supporters, by denying a request to release the findings of a special counsel’s investigation of Waters. The request, which was put forward by Waters and dozens of other House Democrats, was rejected via letter just a day after being submitted.

All 10 members of the committee’s panel signed the letter, which said that the request made incorrect assertions about her case, several of which had been previously addressed. The committee maintains that special counsel Billy Martin has never issued a formal written report of his findings, and that his role in the investigation is on going. The refusal letter stated that there “is no justification for releasing the confidential details of staff advice to the Committee at this time.”

Waters has been under investigation for nearly three years, and the flat denial of the request suggests that the committee is building a strong case against her. The 11-term representative is facing accusations that she improperly sought federal assistance for OneUnitedBank in 2008, a minority-owned bank in which her husband held a financial interest. The bank received $12 million in bailout funding.

The congresswoman is determined to prove that the ethics committee’s investigation impeded on her personal rights, and that the bank efforts were part of a larger movement to help stabilize minority-controlled banks during the recession. Waters’s claims that the length of the investigation alone is a violation of her right to a speedy and public trial, and some of her defenders believe the committee’s actions are racially motivated.

“Considering that it was the conduct of the Committee that necessitated Mr. Martin’s investigation in the first place, which came at the cost of up to $800,000 to the U.S. taxpayer, we feel it is absolutely essential that the Committee move forward with absolute transparency and release Mr. Martin’s report,” the request released by Democrats supporting Waters stated.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi prompted the start of the investigation in 2008 when it was referred to the Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan group. The House Ethics Committee took on the case in summer 2009.





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