Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) both downplayed the role of race in the separate House ethics committee investigations they're facing.
In comments to the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Waters said, "I am clear that if this gets obscured with any other argument before we get our facts out, we don’t stand a chance because people will say we’re hiding behind race or something."
She continued: "So, I think what has to happen is the charges have to be clear, we have to have our day in court and then let’s deal with the process and how the system is working or not working."
“Do I believe the case is racially motivated? No. So, I’d like to acknowledge my reelection, which I’m concentrating on,” Rangel said in separate comments to the NNPA.
Rangel is charged with 13 separate violations of House ethics rules. And the ethics committee charged Waters on Monday with violating three counts of House rules and federal ethics codes for her 2008 effort to direct bailout funds to a bank in which her husband held significant stock.
Both Rangel and Waters will likely have to endure two public ethics trials in September in what would be a major distraction for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections.
Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus have suggested race may have played a role in the cases brought against Waters and Rangel. But Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), a member of the ethics committee and the CBC, threw cold water on that suggestion last week.
—Jordan Fabian contributed to this post.