Within 24 hours of the House Ethics Committee's dismissal of her assertions that her constitutional rights were violated, Rep. Maxine Waters began to fight back.
Waters is accused of steering $12 million in TARP funds to a minority-owned bank with ties to her husband in 2008. The ethics committee's trial was to begin in November 2010 but was delayed after the California Democrat claimed her rights - racial insensitivity, leaked documents, too much time until trial - had been violated.
Today Waters demanded that the committee release a report issued by Billy Martin, the special counsel hired to investigate allegations of staff misconduct at the committee.
"The Committee must immediately release Mr. Martin's report, which forms the basis of their determination to dismiss Representative Waters' due process concerns," Waters, D-Calif., writes in a letter signed by 68 of her Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives. "Without the public, the Congress and Representative Waters being able to review the findings included in this report, the integrity of the Committee's process will further be called into question."
The committee ultimately hired Martin, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney, as an outside counsel to investigate Waters' allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights. His past clients include the parents of Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky's mother, former Sen. Larry Craig and NFL quarterback Michael Vick.
Waters also notes that releasing the report is necessary to restore public confidence in the ethics committee and to afford Waters the opportunity to respond. She complains that despite the committee's concession that a former staff member invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that staff made "inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks" about the congresswoman, the committee still dismissed her allegations that her constitutional rights had been violated.
"Considering that it was the conduct of the Committee that necessitated Mr. Martin's investigation in the first place, which came at the cost of up to $800,000 to the U.S. taxpayer, we feel that it is absolutely essential that the Committee move forward with absolute transparency and release Mr. Martin's report," she writes.
A senior aide to Waters revealed that the California Democrat personally collected each signature over the past 24 hours. So far the ethics committee has not commented on her letter.
Wednesday the panel released its letter to Waters, paving the way for the full ethics investigation to continue. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, still stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure the TARP funds for the struggling bank. She has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.