The House Ethics Committee will hold a public hearing Friday in an attempt to conclude its conflict-of-interest case against Rep. Maxine Waters, Democrat from California, which has lingered for more than two years after accusations of prosecutorial misconduct spawned an outside review of how the panel handled the case and lawmakers involved were forced to recuse themselves.
In a brief announcement released Thursday, the leaders of the Ethics Committee’s review of the Waters’ matter — Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, and John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat — said a public hearing in the Waters’ case would take place Friday morning.
There was no immediate word on whether Mrs. Waters would be on hand to defend herself against charges that she tried to steer federal bailout funds to a minority-owned bank where her husband was a shareholder.
Mrs. Waters has aggressively fought the charges and pushed for the case to be resolved quickly. With Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, retiring at the end of next year, Mrs. Waters is in line to replace him as the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
The probe became mired in accusations of misconduct and partisan maneuvering, forcing the committee to delay Mrs. Waters’ public trial, originally set for fall 2010, and hire a special prosecutor to sort it all out when more details leaked out last year. In June, the outside counsel hired by the Ethics Committee to conduct a review of allegations of prosecutorial abuse and due process violations, concluded that the case could move forward against her.
Even though the outside counsel found that many of Mrs. Waters’ complaints had merit, he said that they did not apply to the House Ethics Committee, which is not subject to the same constitutional protections that apply to the U.S. legal system, and did not bias the case against her.