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Waters to Demand Probe Into Suspended Ethics Aides

Rep. Maxine Waters is demanding an investigation into the suspension of two House ethics committee aides, and plans to introduce a privileged resolution Tuesday that would create a bipartisan task force to conduct the probe, her office confirmed Tuesday.

The California Democrat has questioned the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for its decision to put Deputy Chief Counsel Morgan Kim and attorney Stacey Sovereign on administrative leave in November.

Both aides worked on an ethics subcommittee that charged Waters in August with violating House rules, and Waters had been scheduled to face an ethics trial last month. That hearing was postponed Nov. 19, however, the same day the aides were suspended from the committee.

Although Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) commented on the suspensions last week, the ethics committee has not publicly confirmed or denied any personnel actions.

According to a Waters aide, the California lawmaker will introduce a privileged resolution Tuesday that would create a bipartisan taskforce to probe the ethics committee suspensions.

The measure will be modeled on a 2005 resolution authored by then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pelosi called for a similar inquiry into the firing of several of the panel’s longtime aides by then-ethics Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), as well as the ouster of then-Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) at the panel’s helm.

At that time, Democrats criticized Hastings’s decision as an attempt to weaken the ethics process after the committee issued repeated reprimands of then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in 2004 under Hefley.

The House voted to table Pelosi’s resolution, however, and did not review the panel’s decision.

An ethics subcommittee charged Waters in 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. Waters has denied wrongdoing in the case.

Echoing her previous statements, the California lawmaker alleges in a draft of her resolution that the ethics panel’s decision to delay her trial — likely forcing the matter into the 112th Congress — “violates a Members’ due process rights.”

The resolution, which calls for bipartisan task force, also demands a report before the end of the 111th Congress.

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