Ethics committee hires counsel to investigate handling of Maxine Waters’ case

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday that its members voted to hire an outside attorney to "review, advise, and assist" with their investigation into California Democrat Maxine Waters following allegations the committee mishandled the congresswoman's case.

The attorney--Billy Martin of Dorsey & Whitney LLP-- will be tasked with reviewing the committee's past actions concerning the case and his conclusions will then be used by the committee to determine whether the matter will proceed.

"Serious allegations have been made about the committee's own conduct in this matter by Representative Waters and others,'' Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "The committee has not taken these allegations lightly.''

Politico reported Monday that the former chief counsel has accused committee lawyers of secretly sharing information on investigations with Republicans on the bipartisan committee. Waters' lawyers have asked for her case to be dismissed in light of the allegations and on Tuesday threatened to sue the committee if they found her guilty of any violations.

Last August, the a subcommittee charged Waters with three ethics violations related to her advocacy for a bank connected to her husband.

Waters' case was slated to move to a public House trial last fall. After much protestation by Waters for a speedy trial, a date was set for Nov. 29. But ten days before it was slated to begin, the committee announced her trial had been postponed due to new evidence. The case has been on hold ever since.

The significantly lengthy turnaround of cases is one of many complaints members, watchdog groups and others have lobbed at the committee and contribute to what many view as a flawed ethics process for members of Congress.