In the aftermath of a Politico report this week that suggested the case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) may have been tainted by the alleged improper behavior of two key Ethics Committee attorneys, the California lawmaker is calling for the charges to be dropped. Her counsel, Stanley Brand, said on Tuesday that “misconduct and partisanship in the committee made a fair ethics proceeding impossible.”
Waters, who is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, has all along contended that she did not use her influence to steer bailout funds to OneUnited Bank, in which her husband, Stanley Williams, owned stock. The Black-owned financial institution received $12 million in bailout money in December 2008, but Treasury Department officials have also said that Waters was not involved in that decision. She says that she supported the bailout bill to help all minority-owned banks that suffered during the financial meltdown because of failed investments they’d made in the mortgagers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“This misconduct is of such a fundamentally improper level that it cannot be cured by reliance on any other device, including employment of an outside counsel. Simply put, this committee can never conduct an impartial and unbiased inquiry into this matter,’’ Brand wrote in a letter to the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat. He also threatened to seek vindication in federal court.
Waters, who has earned a reputation for being a firebrand, will likely not let this matter drop until she prevails. In addition, the ethics committee has its own problems as result of the revelations about its handling of the case. The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is now calling for an investigation into the committee.
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