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Ethics committee rejects Waters' request to release documents

June 08, 2012|By Richard Simon
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) had no immediate response to the House Ethics Committee's letter rejecting her request for documents.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) had no immediate response to the House… (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- The House Ethics Committee on Friday declined a request by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and 68 of her Democratic colleagues to release internal documents on its findings that her rights of due process weren't violated during an investigation into whether she improperly helped a bank linked to her husband.

The panel noted that it was still deliberating on how to proceed on the allegations of misconduct against Waters, and that if it were to make public internal documents now, "it would defeat the purpose of having a nonpartisan, confidential process – keeping matters of House discipline free from political or outside influence."

Though the committee, following an outside counsel's opinion, concluded that Waters' due process rights had not been violated during the three-year investigation, it acknowledged that staffers communicated with only Republican panel members, raising concerns about the "appearance of staff partisanship," and  noted that a former staffer made "inappropriate remarks related to race." Waters is black. A former staffer also invoked the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when asked about leaked confidential committee documents.

In a letter Friday, five Democratic and five Republican committee members said that outside counsel Billy Martin did not issue a report but provided confidential advice. They added that there was "no justification for releasing the confidential details of staff advice."

The committee noted that Martin hasn't finished his work, adding that he was hired to "assist the committee in all phases of the investigation of allegations of misconduct against Rep. Waters."

"When public matters before the committee conclude, the committee often releases a carefully detailed final report, with supporting evidence, for the scrutiny of the House community and the public at large," the letter says. "If the committee does so in this matter, it will be at the conclusion of the matter."

There was no immediate response from Waters to the committee letter.
 
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. She has denied wrongdoing, saying that her actions were in keeping with her work to aid minority-owned businesses and that she received no financial benefit.
 
richard.simon@latimes.com

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