WASHINGTON - A coalition of reform groups Friday, urged the House ethics committee to resume work on the long-pending investigation of black California Rep. Maxine Waters and to provide a public accounting of the status of the case.
No public notice of the status of the case has been provided since the abrupt and unexplained cancellation of a scheduled hearing in November. The case has been pending for more than two years and the letter stressed that the unexplained delay undermines confidence in the ethics process and is unfair to all parties involved in the case.
The case against Waters has been dormant for more than seven months after it came to an abrupt halt last year amid committee infighting and accusations that it was being handled improperly.
Waters is accused of helping to secure federal funding for a bank in which her husband owned stock. She has maintained her innocence throughout, according to a report from congressional newspaper The Hill.
Eight of the committee’s staff members – including its chief counsel and staff director – have left the committee since the Waters case was stopped.
The committee has made no signal as to whether it plans to restart the case, which had been scheduled for trial, or drop the matter altogether.
The organizations signing the letter include the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, CREW, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, and Public Citizen.
The full text of the letter follows below.
July 8, 2011
The Hon. Jo Bonner, Chairman
The Hon. Linda T. Sanchez, Ranking Member
House Committee on Ethics
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Bonner and Ranking Member Sanchez:
The investigation of Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA.) has been pending for approximately two years.
In March, we wrote to you regarding the status of this investigation. Now that the Committee has announced the hiring of several new staff positions, including Staff Director, we are writing again to ask for public information on when the Committee plans to resume its work and adjudicate the case.
Your Committee set up an investigatory subcommittee last October, but outside of the abrupt cancellation of a hearing, there has been no mention of the case. Still no hearings have been held, and, despite published reports of infighting among the Committee leaders, there is no indication about how or when the Committee plans to resolve this case. Such delays undermine confidence in the House ethics process and are unfair to all parties involved in the case.
We renew our request that the Committee issue a public statement regarding whether it has resumed work on this case or, if not, when it intends to do so, and when the Committee anticipates completing its adjudication of this case.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Campaign Legal Center
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
League of Women Voters