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Partisan tension over House ethics cases

Republican members of the House Ethics Committee accuse the panel's Democratic chairwoman of seeking to delay the trials of Reps. Maxine Waters and Charles Rangel until after the Nov. 2 elections.

September 28, 2010|By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington — Republican members of the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday accused the panel's Democratic chairwoman of attempting to put off until after the November elections the trials of her fellow Democrats, Reps. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles and Charles B. Rangel of New York.

All five Republican members of the usually secretive committee, in a rare public statement, said it was time to "stop stalling."

"The chairwoman has repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election," the statement said. "While we regret that the committee has not worked together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure the transparent and fair resolution of these matters to date, we look forward to working with the chairwoman in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this — and other important unfinished committee business — in the coming weeks."

There was no immediate response from Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose). But the statement is expected to heighten tensions on the panel, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, and could lead to the kind of partisan stalemates that stymied the committee for years.

Republican campaign officials have sought to highlight the ethics cases of the two prominent Democrats.

Waters has asked for her trial — technically called an adjudicatory hearing — to be held before the election, saying that any delay "violates the fundamental principles of due process, denies my constituents the opportunity to evaluate this case and harms my ability to defend my integrity."

Waters, 72, has been accused of intervening improperly on behalf of a bank on whose board her husband served and in which he owns stock.

Rangel is accused of 13 violations of House ethics rules. Both deny wrongdoing.

richard.simon@latimes.com

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