Maxine Waters Asks for Dismissal as Ethics Committee Hires Outside Counsel

Waters photoOn Monday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked the House Ethics Committee to dismiss the pending case against her. In the meantime, the Ethics Committee announced that it has hired an outside counsel to pursue the case.

John Bresnahan reported on documents obtained by the Politico that Waters’ attorney, Stanley Brand, say compromise the case. Late last year, former chief counsel of the Ethics Committee, Blake Chisam, advised then-Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) that two lead attorneys in the case, Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign, provided confidential materials to Republicans on the Ethics Committee.

Kim and Sovereign counterclaimed that Chisam withheld evidence against Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) in an effort to protect Democrats. When questioned during the Rangel case, Chisam claimed, “I see no evidence of corruption.”

Waters’ case was put on hold last year when Lofgren suspended Kim and Sovereign from their jobs. They have both left employment by the Committee.

In a New York Times article by Eric Lipton, Brand said in a statement calling for the dismissal of the case:

The House ethics committee violated both its own rules and Representative Waters’ constitutional rights during its investigation of her. No other remedy exists to cure this misconduct.

Peter Flaherty, President of the National and Legal Policy Center thinks the ethics committee is running out of excuses to postpone the trial. “It appears the tactics to delay and undermine the Waters trial by the former Ethics Committee Chairwomen and her staff have succeeded. But it is now months since Congress changed hands. There is absolutely no excuse for the Republicans not to move forward with this trial.”

On Wednesday, the Ethics Committee announced that it voted to hire an outside counsel, Bill Martin, to “review, advise and assist the Committee in completing the matter of Representative Maxine Waters.”

Waters, who denies the allegations, was to face trial last fall for allegedly helping OneUnited Bank secure bailout funds. The trial was postponed to purportedly allow further investigation into the case. Flaherty previously charged that the case was postponed to spare Nancy Pelosi the embarrassment of it taking place just before last year’s Congressional elections.

Kristen Byrne is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter 

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