Waters pushes ethics rules for the FCC

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who is battling her own accusations of ethical misconduct, introduced a bill on Monday to implement new ethics rules for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Merging Entities Regulatory Guidance and Ethical Reform (MERGER) Act would allow the FCC to require groups that submit comments to the agency to disclose the political contributions they have received. 

The bill from Waters would also prohibit FCC officials from accepting employment at a company within one year of an FCC proceeding involving the company. 

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Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker quit the FCC in May to join Comcast, just four months after she voted to approve the cable company's merger with NBC Universal.

"The American public must have confidence that agency officials are at all times acting in the public trust and not in anticipation of an employment opportunity," said Waters, who opposed the Comcast-NBC merger.

House Republicans are pushing measures that they say will improve accountability and transparency at the FCC, but Democrats say the bills are a ploy to hamstring the agency.

"Although the Republicans continue to focus their FCC reform agenda on deregulation and aggressive efforts to diminish the Commission’s capacity to implement rules and reject mergers, I strongly believe that the FCC should review its public comment process and assess whether improvements can be made to promote greater transparency and accountability," Waters said.

Since 2009, the House Ethics Committee has been investigating charges that Waters helped secure federal funding for a bank in which her husband owned stock. Waters strongly denies the charges, and the investigation has been beset by delays, staff departures and allegations of partisanship.