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Waters Blasts Ethics for Delaying Trial

Rep. Maxine Waters disparaged the House ethics committee for deciding Friday to postpone a trial on allegations she violated the chamber’s rules, accusing the panel of delaying the proceedings in an attempt to bolster its case against her.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced Friday it would indefinitely postpone the ethics trial set for Nov. 29 citing a need to review additional evidence in the case. It is not clear what that evidence is.

“If this evidence is so damning, the Committee should present its case before the public, as we asked them to do when I first learned of their desire to postpone the hearing,” the California Democrat said in a statement. “Apparently the Committee now recognizes, as I have maintained, that there was no benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced, and there is no case.”

An ethics investigative subcommittee charged Waters in August with violating the chamber’s rules, alleging 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. Waters has disputed allegations of wrongdoing by her office.

Waters indicated that the committee received the new evidence Oct. 29, but the document in question “does not provide any new significant information,” she said.

“In fact, the document shows that my office was working to ensure that Emergency Economic Stabilization Act assisted small and minority institutions,” she said. “The document does not reflect any action on behalf of any specific company.”

“Although the Committee continues to insist that the ‘small bank language’ was drafted to benefit only one institution, the facts do not support that assertion; in fact, the documentary record directly contradicts it,” Waters added.

Waters also accused the ethics committee of violating its own rules, asserting the panel may not amend the Statement of Alleged Violation, the formal document use to charge House lawmakers with rules violations, that the committee issued against her in August.

“There is no provision or authority for the Committee to take this action, but the same body which is charged with interpreting the rules now seems to be guilty of making them up as it goes along,” Waters said. “Neither the letter sent to me nor the statement on the Committee website cites any rule or clear rationale for this decision.”

In its announcement, the ethics committee noted that the adjudicatory panel, to be headed by ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), no longer has jurisdiction to hear the charges. It is unclear if the ethics panel will attempt to schedule a new hearing before the 111th Congress adjourns.

The House is scheduled to reconvene in December for a one-week session. If the ethics committee does not complete its work in the case, the panel could vote in the 112th Congress to reconvene the investigative panel.

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