The House Ethics Committee abruptly postponed the high-profile ethics trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) on Friday, after new evidence came to light which may contradict some of the congresswoman’s previous claims. The Democratic lawmaker is being charged with helping to steer more than $12 million in federal bailout funds to One United, a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake.
The New York Times reported on Friday that emails show that Waters’ office may have been advocating on behalf of OneUnited for longer than she previously admitted. Emails reportedly show that Waters’ chief of staff Mikael Moore was actively involved in discussing details of the bank bailout with members of the House Finiancial Services Committee, after Waters told Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that she would halt her involvement in banking matters that might conflict with her husband’s financial dealings.
These documents “may directly contradict a bit of Maxine’s story, if not the actual facts, the way she has told it,” a person directly involved in the trial told the Times.
It’s possible that the new developments could raise additional ethics questions, not just for Waters, but also for members of the House Financial Services Committee who her office was corresponding with.
Waters remained defiant in the face of the revelations, and said that the trial delay shows that the House Ethics Committee does not have enough evidence to go ahead with the proceeding.
“The committee’s decision to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred,” said Waters in a written statement.
Since being charged in August, the congresswoman has maintained that she did not violate any ethics rules.
“Neither my staff nor I engaged in any improper behavior,” the lawmaker said at an August press conference. “And we did not influence anyone and we did not gain any benefit.”
The House Ethics Committee has not indicated when the trial will be rescheduled. Members of the committee said that the new evidence will be evaluated by an investigative subcommittee.
News of the trial’s delay came just one day after the House Ethics Committee recommended a censure for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who was found guilty of 11 ethics violations after a similarly prominent trial.
Alana Goodman is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter.