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."