Skip to comments.Maxine Waters's ethics case going nowhere
Posted on 04/27/2011 3:15:47 PM PDT by jazusamo
Five months after her ethics trial was postponed and the investigation reopened, the ethics case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) remains in limbo.
The delay has been caused by turnover among members and staffing problems at the House Ethics Committee, including the failure so far of Reps. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) the chairman and ranking Democrat of the secretive panel to hire a new staff director and chief counsel.
Sources close to the Ethics Committee noted that the glacially slow pace of action by the panel in the 112th Congress hasnt been marked by the same partisan warfare that broke out in 2005, when then incoming Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) squared off against Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) over the the handling of allegations against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas). The stalemate lasted into July of that year and proved an embarrassing reminder of just how toxic things can get inside the panel.
But heading into early May, the Ethics Committee is still not fully staffed up and high-profile cases, like that facing Waters, have languished.
The Ethics Committee is as pathetic as it usually is, said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group. Its hard to come up with new ways to talk about the Ethics Committee ... because for so many years, weve been talking about what a disaster it is. And the truth is, no one in Congress really cares.
Bonner said in a recent interview that he and Sanchez were actively interviewing job candidates for the sensitive post, which has been vacant since the departure of staff director Blake Chisam last year. Chisam was a former aide to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and played a central role in the censure of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).
Those candidates include at least one staffer for the Senate Ethics Committee, according to sources familiar with the process.
Bonner declined to say when the new staff director would be in place, and he cannot make that selection without Sanchezs approval. With a 10-member, evenly divided panel the only one in the House Sanchez and the Democrats must approve any hiring decision by Bonner.
Whoever gets the staff director post one of the most sensitive in the House faces a difficult task in resolving the Waters case.
Last summer. the ethics panel began investigating whether Waters and Mikael Moore, her chief of staff, broke House and government ethics rules when the lawmaker attempted to assist a minority-owned bank, OneUnited, during the 2008 financial crisis.
The bank, which was in trouble because of its investment in Fannie Mae stock, was seeking tens of millions of dollars in federal bailout funds. OneUnited eventually received $12 million in TARP funding but only after getting an injection of private capital.
Waterss husband, Sidney Williams, served on the board of OneUnited and still held bank stock worth more than $350,000 when the crisis began. And a top official at the bank was also a donor to Waters reelection campaign.
Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, allegedly brought discredit upon the House, used her office through Moores actions to benefit financially and violated the Code of Ethics for Government Service.
Waters and Moore vehemently denied the charges, and an ethics trial for the California Democrat was scheduled to begin Nov. 29.
But the trial was postponed and the case sent back to a special subcommittee for further investigation after new evidence was reportedly discovered.
However, behind the scenes, two top Ethics Committee aides Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign were placed on administrative leave after Lofgren tried to fire them. Bonner blocked the firings. Kim was the lead attorney on the Waters case. She now works for Hastings on the Natural Resources Committee.
A number of watchdog groups, including CREW, the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, have publicly called on Bonner and Sanchez to complete work on the Waters case, or at least inform the public of what the panels intentions were on the matter.
These delays, followed by uncertainty whether any action is forthcoming, are unfair to all parties involved in the case and reflect poorly on the ability of the House Committee on Ethics to fulfill its mission, the groups wrote in a March 24 letter. We request that the committee inform us and the public about when the committee is planning to resume its work on this case and when the committee is anticipating completing its adjudication of this case.
It is still unclear when the committee will take up the matter. The case was sent back to a special subcommittee for review, and no deadline has been set for trial. Waters has publicly called for an investigation into Kim and Sovereign, but she shelved a resolution calling for a House vote on a probe.
Now, Democratic insiders expect Waters, with support from the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic allies, to step up the pressure on the Ethics Committee to either set a new trial date or drop the case. Waters office would not comment for this article, but in the past, the combative California Democrat has stated that she was denied basic due process and suggested the committee bungled the case.
Waters may also call for a probe into the circumstances surrounding Lofgrens decision to place Kim and Sovereign on leave, including the appointment of a special counsel, potentially forcing the Ethics Committee to investigate itself.
I imagine that's what this was about when the two attorneys were suspended by Lofgren.
And this is a big surprise because...
Must be a counter probe the mental giant. lol
Do her working class constituents know that their tax dollars were used to finance a luxurious lifestyle for OneUnited bank chairman and CEO Kevin Cohee, including a Porsche and a mansion on the exclusive Pacific Coast Highway?
Cohee's high-flying perks came despite his having been charged in 2007 with felonies after his arrest on suspicion of possessing cocaine, crack cocaine and concentrated cannabis, according to the Los LA County DA's office. The case was dismissed the next year after Cohee completed a drug diversion program.
Cohee was also arrested in 2007 after a woman filed a complaint alleging that Cohee had forcibly sodomized her, according to public records. Prosecutors did not pursue the assault charge.
OneUnited Bank Chairman and CEO, Kevin Cohee
JD, Harvard Law School
Board Member, Boston Bank Of Commerce
Formerly with Salomon Bros, Inc.
I hear that, these days, Cohee has the affirmative action office of Harvard Law School on speed-dial.
Waters' Academy award-worthy acting job.
WATERS' DOING HER VICTIMIZATION ACT--PLAYING THE RACE CARD
I wonder if it ever bothers this half wit to know the only reason she got elected in her job is because of her color..I doubt she even cares as long as she can do her criminals deeds and get away with them..The only way people like her will ever go away is the day they die of old age and then another one just like her will take her place..
Thanks for your post, Liz.
I’d bet that many of her constituents don’t know of the above and the majority of those that do will vote for her again any way.
No worries, Eric Holdout will make it right...
No worries, Eric Holdout will make it right...
There's your problem right there. You're assuming Maxine has "working" class constituents that pay taxes instead of recieve them.
Most of Maxines voters see this kind of graft is just money that's owed to blacks in general.
Situation Normal...for the House.
“No worries, Eric Holdout will make it right...”
Yes, Holder protects “his people”.
Linda Sanchez: labor lawyer, Berkeley grad, AFL/CIO Treasurer . sister is Loretta Sanchez. They both represent the formerly beautiful and now hopelessly crimeridden Southern California.
Maxine Waters is two or three quantum levels below stupid.
Maxine Waters is four of give quantum levels below felon.
Maxine Waters is one of Eric (sleezebag) Holder’s “people”.
Folks, it’ll last until we have the revolution.
Your time or mine.
There sure isn't much hope for the future. The gangsters have won.
I really never thought I would live to see the day this great country would go to hell..but I have it is here.. The communist have taken it over and there is little hope for a recovery..I know there will not be one if the communist Muslim gets reelected..I also have the awful feeling this no good piece of garbage will be reelected by his illegals and the dead...I do hope I am wrong and the cocky little Communist will go away or be put in jail..along with the other criminals that work with him..