Maxine Waters' Ethics Investigation to Move Forward

Outside counsel has determined the California Democrat has been treated fairly.

Posted: 06/06/2012 03:00 PM EDT

The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday that California Rep. Maxine Waters' due process rights were not violated during its investigation into whether she used her role on the Financial Services Committee to improperly intervene on behalf of OneUnited Bank on whose board her husband served and owned stock in.

The case has been on hold since 2010 after it was revealed that two of the committee's staff attorneys had mishandled evidence by sharing evidence with the panel's Republican House members and staff and leaking information to the media. Last summer, the ethics committee hired prominent African-American attorney Billy Martin to investigate the committee's conduct and determine whether the case could move forward, which Waters argued violated her due process rights.

The committee acknowledged in a letter to Waters informing her of its decision that while mistakes may have been made that may even give the appearance of partisanship, "even when the allegations are considered in their totality, there is still no violation of the process which you are due, and the committee is entitled to continue its consideration of your matter." It also said Waters isn't entitled to a Sixth Amendment right to a "speedy trial" as a criminal defendant would be.

Waters, who has long denied any wrongdoing, handily won her primary race Tuesday night and this latest twist will not likely affect her chances of re-election in November. But it could still adversely impact the California lawmaker. She is poised to succeed retiring Rep. Barney Frank as the Financial Services Committee's top Democrat. If her party were to regain the majority, an ethics cloud swirling over her could cost her the chairman's gavel.

Waters declined to respond to the news until she's had more time to review the letter she received from the committee.


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