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Maxine Waters, 68 Democrats call for release of ethics report

June 07, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles.) was to face a rare trial before an ethics panel in 2010, but the hearing was put off to allow for further investigation.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles.) was to face a rare trial before an ethics… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

WASHINGTON — Rep. Maxine Waters rallied 68 of her Democratic colleagues to call on the House Ethics Committee on Thursday to release the report that concluded her rights weren’t violated in the investigation of her.

A letter signed by her fellow Democrats calls on the panel to release the report by Billy Martin, a Washington lawyer hired to investigate allegations of misconduct against the committee staff in its investigation of Waters, from Los Angeles.

"Without the public, the Congress and Rep. Waters being able to review the findings included in the report, the integrity of the committee’s process will be further called into question,’’ the  letter says.

Waters has been accused of intervening improperly on behalf of OneUnited Bank, on whose board her husband served from January 2004 to April 2008 and in which he owned stock. The California political fixture, elected to the state Assembly in 1976 and to Congress in 1990, has denied wrongdoing, saying her actions were in keeping with her work to aid minority-owned businesses and that she received no financial benefit from her actions.

Committee members are awaiting Martin’s recommendation on how to proceed in the Waters case. They could launch a new investigation, drop the matter or pursue the charges against her. She previously vowed to fight the charges in a rare ethics trial before her colleagues.

Waters gathered signatures for the letter after the committee on Wednesday said it found no violation of Waters’ due process rights, even though it acknowledged that staff communications with only Republican panel members during the investigation "raised concerns about the appearance of staff partisanship’’ and found "evidence of insensitive remarks’’ by a former staffer. The report also said that a former staffer invoked the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked about leaked documents in the investigation.

"Considering that it was the conduct of the committee that necessitated Mr. Martin’s  investigation in the first place, which came at the cost of up to $800,000 to the U.S. taxpayer, we feel that is absolutely essential that the committee move forward with absolute transparency and release Mr. Martin’s report,’’ the letter says. 

There was no immediate response from the secretive committee, which is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

richard.simon@latimes.com

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