*Politico is reporting that the House Ethics Committee has voted not charge Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters with any violations following a lengthy, contentious probe into whether she improperly aided a minority-owned bank in which her husband owned stock during the 2008 U.S. financial crisis.
The decision clears the way for Waters to seek the top Democratic spot on the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, taking over for the retiring Democrat Barney Frank.”
Waters is alleged to have improperly intervened on behalf of minority bank OneUnited, where her husband held more than $350,000 in stock in 2008. Waters has denied any wrongdoing. Mikael Moore, her chief of staff and grandson, was also implicated in the case.
Moore was issued a “letter of reproval” today for three ethics violations. (A “letter of reproval” is the lightest punishment the Ethics Committee has available to it.)
The Waters case has been marked by an unprecedented series of missteps, leaks and partisan infighting, notes Politico.
The Ethics Committee initially voted to charge her and Moore with three violations in summer 2010. Waters then asked for an ethics “trial” before the committee.
But the Ethics Committee, then chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), canceled this “trial” for Waters in Nov. 2010. In Dec. 2010, Politico reported that two top aides on the panel running the Waters’ probe were suspended in a bitter dispute between Lofgren and Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), who is now chairman. When Republicans moved to allow the two ex-staffers — Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign – to return to the panel, Lofgren refused to allow it.
In February, all five Republicans on the Ethics Committee took the exceptional step of recusing themselves from the case, which has never happened in the panel’s 45-year history. California Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the committee, also recused herself from the matter. Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Mich.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) took over as acting chairman and ranking member for the Waters case alone. The two lawmakers chaired Friday’s hearing, according to a statement released by the Ethics Committee today.
*Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, walked out of his House ethics subcommittee hearing this morning after complaining that he didn’t have enough time to hire a new legal team to respond to corruption allegations. [Watch 2nd clip below.]
The subcommittee rejected Rangel’s request to delay the hearing until a new defense team is assembled, reports CNN.
Rangel faces 13 allegations, including failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and improper use of government mail service and letterhead.
“Fifty years of public service is on the line. And I truly believe that I am not being treated fairly,” he declared. “I deserve a lawyer.” [Watch 1st clip below.]
Rangel told the subcommittee members he has already spent $2 million defending himself from the charges, and had been advised the hearing — similar to a trial — could cost him another $1 million.
He complained that he was not being given enough time to raise funds to hire new lawyers because the committee was rushing to complete its work before the conclusion of the current lame duck Congress.
Rangel’s original defense team left him in September.
“What theory of fairness would dictate that I be denied due process … because it is going to be the end of this session?” he asked.
Ethics committee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, replied that it was Rangel’s responsibility to assemble his legal team. She also noted that Rangel had received advice numerous times from the committee on how to raise funds for his defense.
“Retention of counsel is up to the respondent,” she said.
Several subcommittee members, however, also blasted Zuckerman Spaeder, the law firm originally representing Rangel.
It is “fundamentally unfair” for lawyers to abandon a client on the eve of a trial, said North Carolina Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a former trial judge. “That would not have happened in my courtroom.” We need to “make sure that this firm explains its conduct to the committee.”
The subcommittee must ultimately vote on each of the 13 charges made against Rangel. It will then forward its conclusions to the full ethics committee — formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — which in turn votes on possible penalties against the congressman and files a report with the full House.
In August, Rangel said nothing “will stop me from clearing my name from these vile and vicious charges.”
Rangel also offered explanations for the ethics charges against him, characterizing them as mistakes and acknowledging violations of House rules but denying they amounted to corruption.
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California is also scheduled to have an adjudication hearing with the House ethics committee this month, on Nov. 29. Waters has denied the allegations against her, which include steering federal bailout money to Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank — in which her husband had a financial stake.
*Monday, the House Ethics Committee revealed the three counts of alleged ethics violations against Democratic California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. They include a charge that she had requested federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on its board.
Waters, a 10-term representative from Los Angeles, has denied any wrongdoing and had urged the committee to come forth with details of the charges so that she can defend herself in a trial expected to take place this fall.
The case revolves around whether she helped OneUnited Bank obtain federal bailout funds in late 2008. Her husband, Sidney Williams, served as a member of OneUnited’s board of directors from January 2004 to April 2008, and was a stockholder in the bank.
In the wake of the House Ethics Committee revealing the charges against Waters, the Congresswoman from South LA is showing her defiant side. She spoke exclusively with TheGrio.com. She says absolutely “No deals! I’m not going to the backroom”:
California Congresswoman Maxine Waters has taken a virtually unprecedented step. She is challenging the House Ethics Committee to fully release the entire report on her alleged ethics violation.
The charge is that Waters used her influence to get the Treasury to funnel $12 million to One United Bank that her husband once sat on the board of directors of and had stock in. The bank is a member of the National Bankers Association, the minority banking assn. Waters asked the Treasury for a meeting with the NBA in September 2008. This violated the House code of conduct rule that states: Members ”may not permit compensation to accrue to the beneficial interest of such individual from any source, the receipt of which would occur by virtue of influence improperly exerted from the position of such individual in Congress.”
The ethics committee wraps its investigations in a thick cloud of secrecy. It literally takes an act of Congress to get the committee to publicly reveal the details of the case it makes against one of its own. That’s the case again with Waters. The committee completed its investigation, and published its eyes only report on Waters in August 2009.
In this exclusive interview with theGrio, Waters’ discusses the ethics charges against her, the targeting of Congressional Black Caucus members for ethics violations, the effect on the Democratic Party, her constituents, and this fall’s midterm elections.
theGrio: The House’s Office of Congressional Ethics charges against you were initially made more than one year ago. Why are they just being made public now?
Rep. Maxine Waters: We have asked the ethics committee the same question. Why has it taken so long to bring the charges? The OCE report was made public just as the House was going into a six week summer break. That hurt, because there’s no real opportunity to contest the charges and that’s not fair. So that’s why we have publicly demanded that the committee release the full report that contains the specific charges.
Many wonder because of the long time gap before release, if there were any new charges?
*The AP is reporting that a House investigative panel has charged California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters with violating ethics rules.
The specific charges against Waters were not made public in the announcement delivered this afternoon from the House ethics committee.
Waters has been under investigation for a possible conflict of interest involving her assistance to a bank that was seeking federal aid. Her husband owned stock in the bank and had served on its board.
Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee will face trial in the fall unless she negotiates a settlement. If the case ends up in court, Democrats would have the political headache of two ethics trials – one for Waters and another for Rep. Charles Rangel of New York.
*California Democrat, Representative Maxine Waters has chosen to go through an ethics trial, like the one lined up for New York Rep. Charles Rangel, rather than accepting charges made by an ethics subcommittee, a source familiar with the process tells Politico.com.
The back-to-back trials of a pair of black lawmakers represent an unprecedented use of an ethics adjudication system that has rarely been used by House members accused of breaking House rules.
Waters’ case revolves around allegations that she improperly intervened with federal regulators to help a bank that her husband owned stock in and on whose board he once served.