WASHINGTON – House Democrats this week rallied behind California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters following an announcement by the ethics committee that it did not violate the congresswoman’s rights during their pursuit of her case.
A total of 68 Democrats signed a letter Thursday calling on the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to release their report– which the committee says found that their staff did not violate Waters’ due process rights.
“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 states.
Ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has been highly critical of Waters, also called on the committee to release the report, citing past questions regarding the committee’s conduct:
The committee should immediately release the report both to restore public confidence in the committee process and to allow Rep. Waters to respond. Both the public and Ms. Waters have a right to know what confidential information was leaked and what “racially insensitive” remarks were made and by whom. Given the committee’s troubled handling of the Waters matter, “trust us,” doesn’t cut it.
Ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has been highly critical of Waters, also called on the committee to release the report.
Last July, the committee hired outside counsel to investigate whether their staff mismanaged Waters’ case, which centers on whether Waters used her political position to improperly advocate on behalf of a bank in which her husband was financially invested. Waters was charged in Aug. 2010 of three ethics violations, but the committee soon delayed the start of her House trial citing new evidence and the case has been on hold ever since. In July 2011, a former chief counsel for the committee alleged committee lawyers secretly shared investigation information with Republicans on the committee– prompting the committee to investigate allegations of misconduct. Waters, who is black, alleged racial insensitivity in addition to a failure to conduct a speedy trial.
This is a sampling of the Congresswoman’s support.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, a colleague of the Congresswoman, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, said:
“I think if there was some big smoking gun, under the Republican leadership it would have leaked by now … I think that the whole thing should be resolved. She has had this hanging over her head for the last three years and I think that’s absurd. It’s a disservice, not just to the Congresswoman, but to the House (of Representatives) as a whole. She is a national icon in our community, and historically speaking, we have lots of experience knowing how our leaders are attacked. I think that the charges against her are unfounded – and if they were substantive, what would be taking all this time?”
Assemblyman Mike Davis, another colleague of the Congresswoman who considers her his mentor, stated: “Congresswoman Maxine Waters is the foremost legislative advocate for African Americans and minorities in America. She has a point that there should be a speedy verdict. Moreover, the work that Congresswoman Maxine Waters does speaks for itself. A successful fight for divestments of businesses doing business with South Africa and California, an agreement to have insurance companies pay for reconstructive surgery and mammograms of its female policy holders, establishment of Black Women’s Forum in Los Angeles, a comprehensive Child Abuse Prevention Policy, and a push for diversity in Wall Street Financial Industry Reform all are a part of the legislative legacy that Congresswoman Maxine Waters has contributed to California and this nation.
“The effort to not answer in a timely manner contributes to the perception of disdain for African Americans in the sense that it suggests that the investigating Committee has no protocol, no time limits-just partisan political consequences resulting in Congresswoman Maxine Waters not being allowed to fully participate in the process to encourage others to vote and get elected. Why is it that an advocate for African Americans and minorities gets different treatment? It is time for an African American Woman to serve as Chair of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
“This process must not be used to thwart progress in America, neither by special interests nor by racial discord. No improper action, No failure to disclose, No one influenced…No case!!!”
Congressman Mervyn Dymally (ret.), who has worked with the Congresswoman said: “One must ask two questions: did Representative Waters and her husband benefit from meeting with the federal officials? And the answer is ‘No.’ Second: does she make these representations for small businesses in her district regularly?” And the answer is ‘Yes.’ This is a classical case of justice delayed is justice denied. This case should have been dropped long time ago.”
By Rachel Rose Hartman
Special to the NNPA from the Los Angeles Sentinel