Judicial Watch • Ethics Comm. Chair Derails Probe To Help Maxine Waters

Ethics Comm. Chair Derails Probe To Help Maxine Waters

Ethics Comm. Chair Derails Probe To Help Maxine Waters

DECEMBER 21, 2010

 

A few weeks after the House Ethics Committee mysteriously and abruptly cancelled its high-profile trial of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, evidence has surfaced to indicate that the panel’s chairwoman has been unscrupulously steering the investigation to help her fellow California Democrat.

Ethics Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren has indefinitely suspended two key investigators with no explanation, obstructed hers staffs’ probes on Waters and repeatedly refused to approve requests to subpoena Waters and Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat also embroiled in her corruption scandal. Incidentally, both Frank and Waters made Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list this year.

Waters has been charged for using her influence to steer $12 million in federal bailout funds to a failing bank (that eventually got shut down by the government) in which she and her board member husband held shares. Frank, who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, helped write the legislation that allowed the tax dollars to pour into the now-defunct bank, OneUnited.

It seems that Lofgren, a veteran lawmaker who represents the Silicon Valley in the U.S. House, is protecting both her buddies by derailing the investigation, according to inside information obtained by a mainstream Washington D.C. newspaper. Lofgren has also led an effort to drastically slash Waters’ trial from 30 hours requested by staff prosecutors to present a “fair, thorough and effective” case to six hours. Ethics Committee prosecutor Sheria Clarke called Lofgren’s actions “troubling,” according to an electronic mail quoted in the story.

Though scandalous, none of this is surprising for the joke of a House Ethics Committee which is supposed to uphold high standards of ethical conduct but instead has a long tradition of letting corrupt lawmakers off the hook. The panel has been famously remiss over the years while members commit all sorts of shameful transgressions. Rarely does it punish wrongdoing and when it does, the consequences are comical.

Just last month Charles Rangel got a mere slap on the wrist for breaking nearly a dozen House rules, many of which also violate federal laws. The notoriously corrupt Democrat from Harlem used his office to raise money from corporations with business before him, evaded taxes for years and hid more than half a million dollars in assets. He also illegally accepted multiple rent control apartments in his New York district. Rangel’s punishment? Censure, which is essentially the embarrassment of standing before his colleagues during an oral rebuke.

Earlier this year the Ethics Committee cleared a California lawmaker (Pete Stark) after a bipartisan House panel that screens misconduct allegations determined he violated criminal law and ethics rules for lying to get an illegal out-of-state tax break. In exonerating Stark, the House Ethics Committee essentially claimed that other members had been cleared for the same violations and, like them, Stark’s matter should be “dismissed” and “closed.”


 

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