Republicans on Ethics Committee Accuse Lofgren of ‘Stalling’ on Rangel, Waters Trials

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Jo Bonner photoIn recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.

Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee's ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election."

Bonner’s statement was unusually blunt and was signed by all five Republican members of the Committee.  It may have been prompted by the suggestion by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Sunday talk shows that Bonner was in agreement with the delay, which tonight’s statement calls “inaccurate.”

Lofgren is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's handpicked Chairwoman. If Pelosi is as serious about ethics as she claims, she should instruct Lofgren to schedule the two trials as soon as possible. If she is unwilling to do so, it will no doubt fuel the potency of the corruption issue in House races around the country.

Here’s the complete text of the Republicans’ statement:

It is in the best interest of transparency and fairness to the American people, Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, and other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, that the House Ethics Committee stops stalling the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters and complete these public trials prior to the November election.

House Majority Leader Stony Hoyer - this past weekend - inaccurately stated that the scheduling of the trials is “up to Jo Bonner, the Republican, and Zoe Lofgren, the Democrat.”  Calling for the trials to “be resolved as quickly as possible,” the Majority Leader attributed the unwillingness of the Committee to set trial dates prior to the November election to “their own scheduling problems.”

Committee Rule 5(e) provides that a subcommittee – including the adjudicatory subcommittees of the Rangel and Waters trials – “shall meet at the discretion of its Chair.”  After months of trial preparation – and, in the Rangel matter, two years of investigation – Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren should have already issued notices of public trial schedules in both the Rangel and Waters matters.

Members of the Committee have repeatedly expressed their willingness and desire to move forward with public trials of these matters and have repeatedly made themselves available to the Chairwoman for October settings.  In past Congresses, Committee Members have returned to Washington during a recess in an effort to conclude pressing Ethics matters.

Representative Rangel and Representative Waters have publicly – and rightfully - demanded the setting of their respective trials prior to the November election to ensure swift and fair resolution of their matters.  In our opinion, Representatives Rangel and Waters deserve the opportunity to publicly and timely address the charges against them.

The possibility that the House Majority Leader may call to adjourn a week early provides additional opportunities to schedule uninterrupted public meetings in the month of October, when Members are not conducting legislative business.

The Chairwoman has repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election.  While we regret that the Committee has not worked together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure the transparent and fair resolution of these matters to date, we look forward to working with the Chairwoman in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this - and other important unfinished Committee business - in the coming weeks.

The Majority Leader’s inaccurate public statement calls for the Ranking Republican Member’s public correction.  As such and pursuant to Committee Rule 7(g), the Ranking Member, after consultation with Chairwoman Lofgren, regretfully exercises his right to make this statement and does not intend to comment further.

Jo Bonner
            Ranking Member

K. Michael Conaway
            Member of Congress

Charles W. Dent
            Member of Congress

Gregg Harper
            Member of Congress

Michael T. McCaul,
            Ranking Member
            Rangel Adjudicatory Subcommittee

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