Rangel, Waters trials to start after elections

Associated Press
Friday, October 8, 2010

Ethics trials for two prominent House Democrats will take place after the November elections, the chairman of the chamber's ethics committee announced Thursday night.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a written statement that the five Republicans on the 10-member panel blindsided her last week when they publicly requested that Reps. Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.) be tried before the Nov. 2 midterms.

While Rangel and Waters had also requested pre-election proceedings, Lofgren said that Republicans went public without her approval, despite numerous bipartisan meetings to reach a consensus. She called the Republican unilateral statement unprecedented.

Rangel is a senior member and former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, while Waters has a senior position on the Financial Services Committee. Their trials, officially called adjudicatory hearings, will begin Nov. 15 for Rangel and Nov. 29 for Waters.

The hearings will determine whether the lawmakers violated standards of conduct. Rangel is accused of financial and fundraising improprieties and Waters is charged with improperly helping a bank where her husband has an investment.

The ethics committee's attorneys must demonstrate to eight committee members - sitting as judges - that there is clear and convincing evidence of ethical violations.

If violations are proved, the ethics committee would conduct a hearing on punishment. The committee could issue a report criticizing the member's conduct or recommend greater punishment to the full House - including a vote to censure a lawmaker or, in rare cases, expulsion.

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