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The House Ethics Committee said Wednesday that it has cleared itself of wrongdoing during the buildup to the canceled ethics trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) after a nearly yearlong investigation by a specially hired outside counsel.
The announcement that the committee unanimously concurred that Waters’ due process rights had not been violated clears the way for the committee’s case against the California Democrat to proceed.
A letter from acting Ethics Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and ranking member John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) to Waters that accompanied the committee’s announcement addressed each charge of misconduct that she made against the committee.
Though the committee allowed that one of its former staffers had likely leaked confidential information regarding the Waters case and made racially insensitive remarks during the investigation, it did not violate Waters’ rights, the committee said.
“The outside counsel has concluded, and the Committee has unanimously found that you have been afforded notice and the opportunity to be heard,” the letter said. “As such, there has been no violation of due process rights to which you are entitled. Even when the allegations are considered in their totality, there is still no violation of due process which you are due, and the Committee is entitled to continue its consideration of your matter.”
A representative from Waters’ office said the lawmaker was consulting with legal counsel before issuing a statement.
Wednesday’s announcement was the latest twist in a convoluted ethics investigation of the 11-term lawmaker that has dragged on for almost three years.
The probe began in the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which in July 2009 voted unanimously that the Ethics Committee should review allegations that when Waters asked Treasury Department officials in September 2008 to meet with members of the National Bankers Association, it was primarily to discuss OneUnited Bank. Waters’ husband has in the past been a board member of the bank and had a financial stake in it at the time of the meeting.
The committee convened an investigative subcommittee in October 2009 to look into whether the meeting was a conflict of interest. In August 2010, it said that an adjudicatory subcommittee had been appointed to hear the case, and Waters was later scheduled for a rare public ethics trial in November of that year.
But the trial never happened.