- The Washington Times - Friday, November 19, 2010

California Rep. Maxine Waters Friday strongly condemned a decision by the House Ethics Committee to put off indefinitely a hearing into charges that she violated congressional rules by intervening on behalf of a minority-owned bank with ties to her family.

Without elaborating, the House Ethics Committee Friday postponed a long-scheduled Nov. 29 hearing on the California Democrat, one of the most prominent black lawmakers in Congress. The panel’s senior Democratic and Republican members said in a joint letter that the session was being put off because of unspecified new evidence that had surfaced in the case.

Investigators for the bipartisan committee in July detailed three charges against Mrs. Waters, alleging that she intervened with federal regulators on behalf of Boston-based OneUnited Bank, in which she and her husband were investors and on whose board Mrs. Waters’ husband once served as director.

In the “statement of alleged violation” released at the time, committee investigators said there was “substantial reason to believe” that Mrs. Waters broke the official rules of the House.

Mrs. Waters has strongly denied the accusations and said in a blistering statement Friday that the ethics panel was “showing a complete disregard for due process and fairness” by delaying her case.

She asserted that the “new evidence” was a document given to the committee three weeks ago, a document she said backed up her assertion that her actions were targeted for minority institutions in general and never intended to aid any individual firm.

The decision “to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred,” Mrs. Waters contended in her statement.

She also questioned the motives behind the delay, saying she had been pressing for quick trial to deal with the charges.

“Apparently the committee now recognizes, as I have maintained, that there was no benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced, and there is no case,” she said.

It was not clear whether the hearing would be held before the lame-duck session of Congress adjourns for good next month, or what the status of the case would be when the next Congress is seated in January.

A brief letter released Friday afternoon by House Ethics Committee Chairman Zoe Lofgren, California Democrat, and Alabama Rep. Jo Bonner, the ranking Republican on the panel, did not discuss a new date for a hearing into the matter.

The move comes after a wrenching week of hearings for the committee in which the panel voted 9-1 to recommend the full House of Representatives officially censure longtime New York Democratic Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a 20-term Harlem congressman and former chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, for a series of financial and fund-raising violations of congressional ethics rules.