Rep. Maxine Waters called for her ethics case to be dismissed Monday based on the flawed investigation revealed in the leaked memos.
Rangel protested his trial, but the adjudicatory subcommittee hearing determined that the New York Democrat was guilty of 11 of the 13 charges brought by the investigative subcommittee. The House later voted 333-79 to censure Rangel, marking the first time in nearly 30 years that a Member has been publicly rebuked on the House floor.
But the Waters trial quickly derailed, becoming a symbol of Ethics Committee dysfunction.
Ten days before the trial was set to begin, Lofgren released a brief statement that said the committee had voted to send the case back to an investigative subcommittee after uncovering new information. Two staff attorneys handling the case, Morgan Kim and Stacey Sovereign, were placed on paid leave as the committee investigated possible misconduct. The committee has not confirmed the status of the probe or whether it will proceed in the eight months since.
The memos released by Politico for the first time provided details about the roles played by Kim and Sovereign, describing procedural errors made by the staffers and communications with committee Republicans that Chisam believed to be in violation of House rules.
“These two staff members have repeatedly disobeyed clear directives. ... As a result, they have made or caused to be made significant errors in matters presently before the Committee,” Chisam wrote. “Their actions have created a clear and present danger to the Committee’s activities, particularly with respect to the Rangel and Waters matters.”
Both Waters and government watchdog groups on Monday called for the committee to dismiss the case based on the flawed investigative process revealed in the leaked memos.
“No other remedy exists to cure this misconduct,” Waters’ attorney Stan Brand said in a statement. “Given that both current Members and staff are implicated in these documents, any other suggested remedy would lack legal credibility and would confirm an unprecedented level of bias against my client.”
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has criticized Waters in the past, called for an investigation of the Ethics Committee and said that in light of the new information, the Waters probe should be dismissed or started anew.
“At this point, far more important than an inquiry into the conduct of any specific member of Congress is an investigation into the committee itself,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan wrote in a letter to Boehner and current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). “A thorough review of the committee’s actions in the Waters case should be conducted by well-respected outside counsel.”
Boehner’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
A Pelosi spokesman said the Congresswoman does not comment on pending ethics matters.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.