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Posted at 07:57 PM ET, 07/19/2011

Waters’s attorneys call for dismissal of ethics case after leaked emails, reports of partisan infighting

(Cliff Owen - AP)
One day after a report threw further doubt on the House Ethics Committee’s handling of its investigation into Rep. Maxine Waters, the California Democrat’s legal team is calling for the panel to dismiss the case – and is threatening to sue if the panel proceeds with the matter.

In a letter sent Tuesday evening to House Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and the panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.), Waters’s attorneys Stanley Brand and Andrew Herman write that in light of Monday’s Politico report, “any further action by this Committee would be irredeemably tainted and without legal foundation.”

“This misconduct is of such a fundamentally improper level that it cannot be cured by reliance on any other device, including employment of an outside counsel,” Brand and Herman write. “Simply put, given the foregoing history, this Committee can never conduct an impartial and unbiased inquiry into this matter.”

Waters’s attorneys argue in the letter that the leaked emails reported by Politico revealed a pattern of “misconduct by current Committee members and staff,” including “the intentional and malicious misleading of members and staff,” “evidence of partiality and bias” toward Waters, and “the use of trumped-up federal obstruction and perjury charges” in order to pressure committee members.

Brand and Herman write that the “illegal leaking” of the panel’s confidential communications and other information “implicates Congresswoman Waters’ constitutional and statutory rights, which we would seek to vindicate in federal court should that action be necessitated by the Committee.”

They also argue that since the House of Representatives is not a continuing body, as the Senate is, “it is clear that no matter concerning Congresswoman Waters is legally pending before this Committee.” The committee last year began its investigation into whether Waters improperly worked to secure federal aid for a bank in which her husband, Sidney Williams, was a large investor.

The letter was sent ahead of a slated Tuesday evening meeting of the ethics committee. A committee spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


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