WASHINGTON - After details surrounding the ethics investigation of black California Congresswoman Maxine Waters leaked earlier this week, her lawyer is calling for a swift end to the case.
Politico’s coverage of now-disclosed House Ethics Committee emails and memos seems to confirm the suspicions of many who believed Rep. Waters’ case to be a bungled partisan affair.
The most recent controversy in the case is evidence that two top committee lawyers secretly communicated with Republicans during and regarding the investigations of both Rep. Maxine Waters and fellow Congressional Black Congress member Charles Rangel, who was found guilty of 11 counts of House ethics violations last November. Sharing evidence is strictly prohibited during House ethics investigations, as Ethics Committee members are the prosecutors and congresspeople the jurors in such cases.
Reform groups today sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee urging them to engage an outside counsel to complete the long-delayed investigation of the congresswoman.
The groups also praised the work of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and urged an expansion and strengthening of the office.
The organizations include the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.
The letter states:
Recent press reports that indicate severe “partisan dysfunction and accusations of professional misconduct” with respect to the investigation of Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) by the House Ethics Committee are not only troubling for this case, they are seriously damaging to the credibility of the House Ethics Committee enforcement process.
Our organizations believe the Ethics Committee’s continued pattern of dysfunction requires House Speaker Boehner and House Democratic Leader Pelosi to establish a process to determine what happened in the House Ethics Committee and what steps are necessary to further strengthen the House ethics enforcement process. In this context, we believe that the Office of Congressional Ethics has done an outstanding job in carrying out its assigned responsibilities and that OCE’s role in the House ethics enforcement process should be strengthened and expanded.
The letter continues:
In the meantime the Waters ethics investigation must be pursued and completed.
We strongly urge the Ethics Committee to promptly engage an outside counsel to continue and complete the Waters investigation. The Committee should also establish a reasonable timetable for the resolution of this longstanding matter.
The investigation and resolution of the Waters case needs to be dealt with separately from addressing the issues facing the performance of the Ethics Committee and the key to doing this rests with the appointment of an outside counsel to complete the investigation of the Waters case.
The letter concludes:
We reject calls for the Waters case to be dismissed. Serious questions have been raised in the Waters case about potential violations of House ethics rules. These ethics questions merit a professional investigation and adjudication.