Ethics committee needs more time to investigate Rep. Waters

Paul Conner Executive Editor
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Six months was not long enough to get to the bottom of the ethics charges facing California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.

The House Ethics Committee voted Friday to extend the contract of the outside counsel who is investigating possible ethics violations by Waters.

William R. Martin’s contract has been extended to July 31, 2012, and he has been granted $50,000 to $500,000 more in expenditures for research and investigation.

“The Committee’s goal has been and remains to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible,” committee chairman Rep. Jo Bonner and ranking member Rep. Linda T. Sanchez wrote in a statement, “But due to unavoidable delays, additional time is needed for outside counsel to complete his initial review and report his findings and conclusions to the full Committee, which will then determine whether the matter should proceed.”

In 2010 Waters was accused of helping a bank — where her husband owns shares — acquire bailout money. She has denied the allegations. The investigation has not exactly gone smoothly. The inquiry was delayed in Nov. 2010, and Politico reported on conflict within the ethics panel, which has hurt its perception of fairness.

Since July 2011, when Martin was first retained, he has examined “tens of thousands of pages of documents, interviewed numerous witnesses, and conducted extensive legal research” regarding due process. He has also spent $300,000 in the process, according to the committee.

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