Watchdogs Agree: Waters Case Shows Ethics Process is Broken

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Maxine Waters photoCarol Leonnig of the Washington Post writes today that the House Ethics Committee is planning to spend $500,000 for an investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and the Committee's own staff.

Last month, the Committee announced the hiring of Billy Martin to review the actions of the Committee's staff that were cited as a reason to push the Waters trial beyond last November's elections. Martin would then proceed to investigate the Waters matter if he determines that the staff's previous conduct was not sufficiently prejudicial to dismiss the case, as she has requested.

As Leonnig reports:

Ethics watchdogs from both ends of the political spectrum praised the hiring of outside counsel, but they said the move makes clear that Congress is failing to properly police its own and sorely needs a new process.

"If there's one thing to learn from all this it's that the ethics system is not functioning properly," said Ken Boehm of the conservative National Legal and Policy Center.

Craig Holman, of the liberal-leaning Public Citizen, said the committee members are "essentially admitting they cannot handle or perform their job." Holman said both Waters and her accusers might face a harder look.

"Knowing Billy Martin and his superb ability to do his job, I suspect Maxine Waters is going to come under much closer scrutiny," Holman said. "This could be a double-edged sword for Maxine Waters."

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