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Rare partisan sniping, drama breaks out in Ethics Committee


GOP members of the House Ethics Committee released a statement in full below that says the ethics trial for Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) should be held before the midterm elections. They accuse the Democratic Chair of stalling: "The Chairwoman has repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election."

Democratic House sources say they were "caught completely off guard" by this Republican announcement. They call it a "surprise" and "almost unprecedented." Adding, "It shows how bad these guys are hurting...to what ends they will go to score political points."

Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is currently on a flight to San Francisco and unavailable for comment.

Aides accuse the GOP members of knowingly waiting for the Democratic chair to be in flight before releasing this statement without her knowledge. Aides say Lofgren was never consulted on this statement which they argue is a clear violation of Rule 7 and claim the four GOP members are in violation of the Committee's strict confidentiality rules.

Democratic sources say the Republican members are "under too much pressure from their leadership." Aides claim the chair "thought she was negotiating in good faith" to set trial dates.

STATEMENT OF THE RANKING REPUBLICAN MEMBER OF THE COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS OF OFFICIAL CONDUCT

It is in the best interest of transparency and fairness to the American people, Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, and other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, that the House Ethics Committee stop stalling the resolution of the Rangel and Waters matters and complete these public trials prior to the November election.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer - this past weekend - inaccurately stated that the scheduling of the trials is "up to Jo Bonner, the Republican, and Zoe Lofgren, the Democrat." Calling for the trials to "be resolved as quickly as possible," the Majority Leader attributed the unwillingness of the Committee to set trial dates prior to the November election to "their own scheduling problems."

Committee Rule 5(e) provides that a subcommittee - including the adjudicatory subcommittees of the Rangel and Waters trials - "shall meet at the discretion of its Chair." After months of trial preparation - and, in the Rangel matter, two years of investigation - Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren should have already issued notices of public trial schedules in both the Rangel and Waters matters.

Members of the Committee have repeatedly expressed their willingness and desire to move forward with public trials of these matters and have repeatedly made themselves available to the Chairwoman for October settings. In past Congresses, Committee Members have returned to Washington during a recess in an effort to conclude pressing Ethics matters.

Representative Rangel and Representative Waters have publicly - and rightfully - demanded the setting of their respective trials prior to the November election to ensure swift and fair resolution of their matters. In our opinion, Representatives Rangel and Waters deserve the opportunity to publicly and timely address the charges against them.

The possibility that the House Majority Leader may call to adjourn a week early provides additional opportunities to schedule uninterrupted public meetings in the month of October, when Members are not conducting legislative business.

The Chairwoman has repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election. While we regret that the Committee has not worked together in a bipartisan fashion to ensure the transparent and fair resolution of these matters to date, we look forward to working with the Chairwoman in a bipartisan manner to accomplish this - and other important unfinished Committee business - in the coming weeks.

The Majority Leader's inaccurate public statement calls for the Ranking Republican Member's public correction. As such and pursuant to Committee Rule 7(g), the Ranking Member, after consultation with Chairwoman Lofgren, regretfully exercises his right to make this statement and does not intend to comment further.

Rep. Jo Bonner
Committee Ranking Member

Rep. K. Michael Conaway
Rep. Charles W. Dent
Rep. Gregg Harper

Rep.Michael T. McCaul
Ranking Member
Rangel Adjudicatory Subcommittee