The ethics investigation of Maxine Waters, the California representative accused of steering $12 million in TARP funds to a minority-owned bank with ties to her husband, is set to resume.
Today the House committee on Ethics released a letter to Waters, dismissing the embattled Democrat’s allegations that her constitutional rights had been violated.
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.
After Waters raised allegations during the 111th Congress that her constitutional rights – length of the investigation, racially insensitive remarks, leaking of confidential documents — were violated during the committee’s first investigation, the House Ethics Committee cancelled a public trial for Waters that had been set for Nov. 29, 2010.
The committee ultimately hired Dorsey & Whitney attorney Billy Martin, whose past clients include the parents of Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky’s mother, Sen. Larry Craig and NFL quarterback Michael Vick, as an outside counsel to investigate of Waters’ allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights.
In the letter released today, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and John Yarmuth, D-Ky., the respective acting chairman and ranking member working on the matter after five Republicans and the top Democrat on the panel withdrew themselves from the case, told Waters that the only due process she is entitled to under House and committee rules “is notice and the opportunity to be heard.”
The committee dismissed the charge that “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks may have biased the investigation” into the matter. The committee says the investigation “revealed some evidence of insensitive remarks by a former committee staff member,” but outside counsel and the committee agreed that “any such insensitivity did not affect any decision-making of the Members of the Committee.”
It also informed Waters that the Sixth Amendment does not apply to committee proceedings, and she is not entitled to a speedy trial like a criminal defendant.
As for whether confidential information was leaked, the letter also disclosed that investigators found “three instances in which confidential committee information was disclosed,” with one example attributed to the congresswoman herself during a news conference on Aug. 13, 2010, when she “disclosed documents containing significant evidentiary information.”
The committee’s review did not uncover the identity of the person or persons responsible for the other leaks, although one witness, described as “a former member of the staff of the committee,” invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when responding to questions regarding the leaked documents.
A spokesman for Waters did not immediately respond to a request for comment reacting to the committee’s letter.