Tales from the Trail

Rep. Waters accused of breaking House rules

August 3, 2010

Another leading Democrat in the House of Representatives stands accused of ethics violations and faces a public trial ahead of the November congressional elections.

maxine1Long-time California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, is accused of breaking ethics rules in setting up a 2008 meeting between a banker and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. (See details here)

After a lengthy investigation of Waters, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (informally known as the House Ethics Committee) released a report on the findings on Monday.

Her troubles surfaced just days after New York Congressman Charles Rangel was hit with a long list of ethics charges, including use of a rent-stabilized apartment for his campaign committee.

Waters responded with a statement denying any wrongdoing and declaring she wants a public trial. Rangel’s trial is expected to begin in September.

The two lawmakers are under intense pressure from fellow Democrats to cut a deal to avoid a trial. The fear is that public hearings could become political spectacles and undermine Democrats’ bid to retain control of the House in the November elections.

Waters does not appear inclined to negotiate.

“I have not violated any House rules,” she said. “Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing.”

Waters’ hometown newspaper, the  Los Angeles Times, examines  another angle in  the proceedings for two prominent African American House members .  Ethics trials could create a rift between the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democratic leaders, the newspaper reports.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Win McNamee (Rep. Waters bows her head at a Democratic press conference following the impeachment of President Clinton, Dec. 19, 1998)

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