Waters wants ethics case against her dropped

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., gestures for photographers to move during her news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, to discuss the House ethics committee investigation.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Maxine Waters
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is calling for the House ethics committee to drop its case against her after reports surfaced Monday that committee staffers improperly shared information based on partisanship. A nonpartisan watchdog group is also calling for an investigation into the committee itself.

On Monday, Politico reported that Blake Chisam, who was chief counsel to the committee in 2010, had accused other attorneys on staff of breaching confidentiality rules and improperly sharing material related to the Waters investigation and the case against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. He also accused them of failing to provide the Waters legal team with the materials it was entitled to. The two lawyers, Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign, claimed that Chisam withheld evidence in the Rangel case and tried to help Democrats.

Waters' lawyer Stan Brand released a statement on Monday calling for the case's dismissal.

"The House ethics committee violated both its own rules and Representative Waters's constitutional rights during its investigation of her,"Brand said, the New York Times reports. "No other remedy exists to cure this misconduct."

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, asking them to jointly appoint an outside counsel to investigate the House Ethics Committee.

"More important than an inquiry into any specific member of Congress is an investigation into the committee itself," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "At this point, who could possibly have confidence in anything that comes out of the committee?"

Waters was in 2009 accused of improperly helping to arrange a September 2008 meeting between officials at the Treasury Department, then part of the Bush administration, and representatives of a bank in which her husband had a financial interest. Three months later, the bank, OneUnited, received $12 million of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's $700 billion bank bailout approved by Congress in October of that year. Treasury officials have said the bailout funds were not given as a result of Waters's intervention.

The lawmaker, who has a high-ranking spot on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has denied all wrongdoing and said she set up the meeting in order to help a minority-owned bank, not to help her husband. The case was put on hold last November.