Watchdog presses panel on Waters

Public interest groups on Wednesday asked that the House Ethics Committee resume the ethics investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). 

The coalition said that the extended delays in the Waters case are "unfair to all parties involved" and call into question whether the panel is effectively doing its job. 

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“These delays, followed by uncertainty whether any action is forthcoming, are unfair to all parties involved in the case and reflect poorly on the ability of the House Committee on Ethics to fulfill its mission,” the groups wrote in a letter sent on Wednesday.

The groups called on the Ethics Committee heads, Chairman Jo Bonner (Ala.) and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez (Calif.), to publicly announce their plan for moving forward with the case.

The Waters investigation has been dormant for more than three months, and the lawyers have remained on official leave. 

The committee — formerly known as the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — was looking into allegations that Waters helped secure federal funding for a bank in which her husband owned stock. 

Waters has maintained her innocence and pointed to the committee's suspension of her case last year as evidence that the case had no merit.

Neither Bonner nor Sanchez have indicated which direction the committee plans to move with the case.

Shortly after the case was halted, two of the committee’s lawyers — Morgan Kim, the former deputy chief counsel and director of investigations and enforcement, and Stacy Sovereign — were placed on administrative leave. Charges surfaced that they improperly handled the probe into Waters’s case.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) hired Kim earlier this month for the newly established Office of Oversight and Investigations. 

The public interest groups signing the letter included the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Common Cause, Democracy 21, the League of Women Voters and Public Citizen.