Ethics rejects releasing Waters report

The House Ethics Committee on Friday rejected a request from nearly 70 Democrats to makes public the secretive panel’s report on Rep. Maxine Waters.

In a letter dated Friday to the 69 House lawmakers, including Waters, the committee said its case against the California Democrat was ongoing. It also said it would violate the panel’s rules to release the confidential contents of its report and that doing so could open the case up for political posturing purposes.

“If the ongoing work of the Committee's professional staff, including outside counsel, were made public prior to completion, it would defeat the purpose of having a nonpartisan, confidential process — keeping matters of House discipline free from political or outside influence,” wrote Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteProgressive group targets GOP moderates on immigration Florida shooting reopens CDC gun research debate Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (R-Va.), the panel’s acting chairman on the Waters case, and Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthCiting deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements Dems tee off on Trump budget House Dem opposition mounts to budget deal MORE (D-Ky.), the committee’s ranking member.

Waters has maintained her innocence for nearly three years as the committee has investigated allegations that she violated House rules by securing funding for a bank in which her husband owned stock.

After nearly a year of investigation by special counsel Billy Martin on behalf of the committee, the panel has decided it may proceed with its investigation and potential prosecution of Waters.

The 70 Democrats who wrote to the panel said Martin’s report should be released before anything further happens in the case.

“Without the public, the Congress, and Representative Waters being able to review the findings included in this report, the integrity of the committee’s process will further be called into question,” the Democrats wrote.

But the committee rebuffed their plea, saying that if it chooses to make Martin’s report public, it will only be when all of the ethics charges against Waters have been resolved.

“There is no justification for releasing the confidential details of staff advice to the committee at this time,” the panel leaders wrote. “Accordingly, we respectfully decline to provide the internal advice and memoranda of staff in this, or any, open and ongoing matter.”

The committee disputed the assertion that Martin had completed a "report," saying that he was only retained by the members of the panel to provide advice to them.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) was first to call for the committee to release the report on Wednesday.