Waters Headed for House Trial
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will face a House ethics trial rather than negotiate a settlement with an investigative subcommittee, Fox News reported Friday.
Waters has been the subject of an investigation since October 2009 focused on her relationship with the National Bankers Association and OneUnited Bank, and her role in the decision to provide $12 million in federal bailout funds to the latter in 2009.
Waters’ husband, Sidney Williams, had served on OneUnited Bank’s board and owned a minimum of $500,000 in the company’s stock in 2007.
A Waters aide declined to comment on the reports Friday night. Politico first reported that Waters would proceed to an ethics trial.
The Californian would become the second lawmaker to move toward an ethics trial in the 111th Congress, only days after the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct initiated proceedings in an unrelated investigation of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).
In such circumstances, the investigative panel that reviewed the allegations against Waters would submit a “statement of alleged violation,” similar to an indictment, to the ethics committee.
The full committee would then refer the allegations to an adjudicatory subcommittee comprised of four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers, who would determine whether Waters had violated any rules. Both Waters and ethics committee counsel could present evidence and call witnesses to testify during the trial.
If the adjudicatory panel found Waters culpable, the ethics committee would then convene to determine a punishment. The full House could also be called on to vote on sanctions, if the punishment rose to the level of a reprimand, censure or expulsion from the chamber.
Although the Office of Congressional Ethics, which reviews potential rules violations and refers investigations to the ethics committee, recommended a probe of Waters to the House panel in 2009, the ethics committee indicated at that time that it was establishing an investigative subcommittee on its own initiative.
Nonetheless, the ethics panel faces a deadline to release the OCE’s report — which in other cases has included hundreds of pages of documents and interviews — in October.
The ethics panel could release that report sooner, however, should it end its investigative panel and move to an adjudicatory subcommittee.
The House recessed Friday evening, and is not scheduled to reconvene until Sept. 14.
The investigative subcommittee that reviewed the allegations involving Waters included Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) and Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who lead the panel, as well as Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
Correction: Aug. 6, 2010
The ethics committee named Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) to the investigative subcommittee assigned to review the Waters allegations in an October 2009 announcement, but he did not serve on the panel, according to his spokesman. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) served on the panel.