Republican members of the House ethics committee criticized Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) Tuesday for failing to schedule public ethics trials of two senior Democrats before the November elections.
“It is in the best interest of transparency and fairness to the American people, Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, and other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, that the House Ethics Committee stop stalling the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters and complete these public trials prior to the November election,” ranking member Jo Bonner (Ala.) wrote in a public statement, along with Reps. Michael Conaway (Texas), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Gregg Harper (Miss.) and Michael McCaul (Texas).
Bonner and his colleagues disputed recent statements by Democratic leaders that the committee had “scheduling problems.”
“Committee Rule 5(e) provides that a subcommittee — including the adjudicatory subcommittees of the Rangel and Waters trials — shall meet at the discretion of its Chair,'” the statement reads. “After months of trial preparation — and, in the Rangel matter, two years of investigation — Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren should have already issued notices of public trial schedules in both the Rangel and Waters matters.”
The Republican lawmakers called on the panel to hold hearings during the October recess.
“The possibility that the House Majority Leader may call to adjourn a week early provides additional opportunities to schedule uninterrupted public meetings in the month of October, when Members are not conducting legislative business,” the statement reads.
“The Chairwoman has repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election. While we regret that the Committee has not worked together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure the transparent and fair resolution of these matters to date, we look forward to working with the Chairwoman in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this — and other important unfinished Committee business — in the coming weeks,” the statement continues.
An ethics subcommittee charged Rangel in July with 13 counts of wrongdoing, including allegations that he misused federal resources to solicit donations for a City College of New York center named in his honor, accepted a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign office, failed to pay taxes on a Dominican Republic villa and filed inaccurate financial disclosure forms. Rangel has since paid the overdue taxes.
The New York Democrat acknowledged in a speech on the House floor in August that he may have violated some House rules, but he denied that his actions were corrupt.
A different investigative subcommittee charged Waters n August with violating the chamber’s rules over allegations that her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, tried to secure federal support for a bank in which Waters and her husband held hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock.
The California Democrat, who has disputed allegations of wrongdoing by her office, has launched a forceful public defense of her actions, including distributing thousands of buttons and fliers seeking support at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference two weeks ago.