Waters Wants Charges Revealed, Ethics Trial Scheduled Before Elections

Posted August 4, 2010 at 5:41pm

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who faces an ethics trial over whether she violated House rules, pressed the chamber’s ethics leaders Wednesday to schedule her case before the November elections.

In a letter to ethics committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), Waters also appealed to the panel to release a detailed account of the charges against her, known as a statement of alleged violation.

“I am deeply concerned by the Committee’s failure to announce a date for a public hearing in its most recent press release,” Waters wrote.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced Monday that Waters will face an ethics trial at an unspecified date, after an investigative subcommittee found substantial reason to believe that she violated House rules.

Waters wrote, “I feel strongly that further delay in the scheduling of the hearing violates the fundamental principles of due process, denies my constituents the opportunity to evaluate this case, and harms my ability to defend my integrity.”

The panel has yet to detail the allegations against Waters, but she has been the subject of an investigation since October 2009 that has focused on her relationship with the National Bankers Association and OneUnited Bank. The latter received $12 million in federal bailout funds in 2009.

Waters’ husband, Sidney Williams, served on OneUnited Bank’s board until April 2008 and owned $100,000 to $250,000 in the company’s stock at the end of 2008, according to Waters’ annual financial disclosure.

“In combination with the scheduling of the hearing, the release of the SAV will enable this process to take place in a timely manner and provide the transparency that the American public deserves,” Waters wrote. “I am confident that once the Subcommittee report is released and I am able to present my case, my constituents and all Americans will understand that I have not violated any House rules.”

Waters is the second lawmaker to move toward an ethics trial in the 111th Congress. An ethics subcommittee initiated proceedings in an unrelated trial of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) late last month.

In both cases, an adjudicatory subcommittee comprising four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers will determine whether the lawmakers violated any rules. Both the Members and ethics committee counsel could present evidence and call witnesses to testify during their trials.

If the adjudicatory panels find either Member culpable, the ethics committee will convene to determine a punishment. The full House would be called on to vote on sanctions if the punishment rises to the level of reprimand, censure or expulsion from the chamber.