WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson had said he was incensed that chairwoman of the House of Representatives’ ethics committee decided to delay the start of ethics trials against two prominent Democrats until after the election.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, announced Thursday that hearings against Rep. Charlie Rangel would begin Nov. 15 and against Rep. Maxine Waters on Nov. 29.
“This is obviously being pushed back to avoid negative publicity before the Nov. 2 elections,” Rep. Johnson said. “If the accused were Republicans, I have no doubt the timing would be different.
Rangel is a senior member and former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, while Waters has a senior position on the Financial Services Committee.
The hearings will determine whether the lawmakers violated standards of conduct. An investigative subcommittee has found substantial reason that Rangel not only broke House rules but may have broken the law in a wide range of financial and fundraising improprieties. Waters is charged with improperly helping a bank where her husband has an investment.
“Justice is supposed to be swift but these individuals, with the support of the majority of this chamber, have stonewalled and used every procedural delaying tactic available to them to avoid accountability. Given this history, I question just how serious this committee will be in the execution of its duties.”
The House has not held a public trial of a member since 2002 when Rep. James Trafficant, an Ohio Democrat, was convicted on corruption charges. He was expelled from Congress and served a prison term.