- - Thursday, June 7, 2012

A contingent of 68 House Democrats is demanding more answers from the Ethics Committee about its decisions to move forward with the 2-year-old case against Rep. Maxine Waters and to dismiss the California Democrat’s argument that her due process rights were violated.

The group of Democrats wrote a letter to the committee Thursday, calling on the panel to immediately release the report issued by outside special counsel Billy Martin, which looked into accusations that the panel mishandled the case against her. He found that some of Mrs. Waters‘ complaints had merit but advised going forward with the case anyway.

Without a public accounting of the counsel’s findings, “the integrity of the Committee’s process will further be called into question,” wrote the members, who include a large swath of the Congressional Black Caucus and more than a dozen other liberal-leaning members.

The committee now plans an investigation on the merits of the case against Mrs. Waters, which focuses on whether she tried to steer federal bailout funds to a minority-owned bank where her husband was a shareholder.

“Considering that it was the conduct of the committee that necessitated Mr. Martin’s investigation in the first place … we feel that it is absolutely essential that the committee move forward with absolute transparency and release [the] report,” they continued.

Mr. Martin advised moving forward with the case even though the panel conceded that a committee staffer invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when questioned about the Waters matter, that unnamed staffer members made “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks,” and that committee staff leaked confidential information.

Mr. Martin said the due-process rights do not apply to the House Ethics Committee, which is not subject to the same constitutional protections that apply to the U.S. legal system, or did not bias the case against her.


Salazar seeks to broker deal for Eisenhower memorial

A member of President Obama’s Cabinet is taking a direct interest in helping to resolve a dispute over the design of a national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower, likely delaying the project beyond the summer.

Interior Department spokesman Adam Fetcher said Thursday that Interior Secretary Kenneth L. Salazar has expressed interest in viewing models of architect Frank Gehry’s design with the key parties involved. No meeting has been set, but Mr. Salazar could hold discussions about how the memorial project in the nation’s capital could move forward.

Eisenhower’s family has objected to the design.

Memorial commission members Sen. Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas say they will work with the Interior Department but hope to avoid excessive delays.


TSA says it’s working to ease security rules

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