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Maxine Waters Ethics Trial Canceled

Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., during her news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, to discuss the House ethics committee investigation. AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Updated 5:29 p.m. Eastern Time

One day after it recommended censure for veteran Democrat Charles Rangel of New York, the bipartisan House ethics committee has canceled the Nov. 29th trial for California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.

The committee said new material has come to light that has prompted a decision to send the Waters case back to the initial subcommittee that first looked into it, according to CBS Radio News Capitol Hill Correspondent Bob Fuss. That four-member subcommittee will now reexamine the evidence against Waters.

Waters has been accusedof improperly attempting to steer federal bailout money to a bank in which her husband had a financial interest. The lawmaker, who has a high-ranking spot on the House Financial Services Committee, has denied all wrongdoing.

In 2008, Waters organized a meeting between Treasury officials and executives from OneUnited Bank, where her husband was once a board member and had significant investments. The bank received $12 million from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Waters has defended her request for the meeting as part of her efforts to advocate on behalf of minority-owned businesses.

Following the news, Waters put out a statement suggesting that the "weak case" against her is unraveling. 

"I am disappointed that the Committee is once again postponing my hearing and showing a complete disregard for due process and fairness," she said. "For over a year, I have cooperated with the investigation and I have consistently asked for a public hearing on this matter. I remain eager to present my case and demonstrate to my constituents and all Americans that I have not violated any House rules."

"The Committee's decision to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the Committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred," she added.

The ethics committee charged Waters with three violations in August, including that she failed to "behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."

As CBS News Investigative Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson noted last month, other members of Congress have taken actions comparable to those Waters and Rangel were charged for but did not face charges.

"The Committee is suggesting it needs more time to review newly discovered evidence that it claims may be material to its case," Waters said in her statement today. "In fact, the Committee has had this new document since October 29th, and it does not provide any new significant information. In fact, the document shows that my office was working to ensure that Emergency Economic Stabilization Act assisted small and minority institutions. The document does not reflect any action on behalf of any specific company. Although the Committee continues to insist that the small bank language was drafted to benefit only one institution, the facts do not support that assertion; in fact, the documentary record directly contradicts it."

"The credibility of the House is reflected not only by Members accused of improper action, but also is reflected by the Members who sit in judgment," she added. "The public expects those who judge to hold themselves to their rules. Today, the Committee has brought discredit upon itself and this institution by denying me, and more importantly my constituents, the right to set the record straight."

Brian Montopoli is senior political reporter for You can read more of his posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.
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