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Waters urges probe of Ethics Committee

From NBC's Shawna Thomas
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is calling for an investigation of the House Ethics Committee after her pending case before the panel was abruptly stalled and two members of the committee were suspended.

Waters has prepared a “privileged resolution” that asks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "appoint a bipartisan task force to investigate the circumstances and cause of the decision to place professional staff of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on indefinite administrative leave, and for other purposes."

The resolution will also accuse the Ethics Committee of behaving in such a way that "produced contempt for the ethics process, created the public perception that the committee's purpose was to unjustly impugn the integrity of a Member of the House, and weakened the ability of the committee to properly conduct its investigative duties, all of which has brought discredit to the House."

The draft of the resolution is modeled after language that then-Minority Leader Pelosi brought to the House floor in 2005, when she requested an investigation into the panel’s conduct during the Tom DeLay's ethics investigation.

Last week, it was reported that two members of the Ethics Committee staff were suspended the same week the panel voted to send the Waters case back to the investigative stage.

Waters was originally charged with three counts of breaking House rules. She and her chief of staff are accused of wrongfully drafting sections of the TARP legislation that may have specifically helped a bank in which Waters' husband had an investment.

Those counts could change now because the matter was sent back to the investigative committee.

If Waters offers her resolution today, the House would have two days to take up the resolution.

Here are some of the draft clauses that are expected in the resolution:

"Authorizing and directing the Speaker to appoint a bipartisan task force to investigate the circumstances and cause of the decision to place professional staff of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on indefinite administrative leave, and for other purposes."

Whereas, On November 19, 2010 two members of the professional staff of the committee on standards and official conduct were placed on indefinite administrative leave

Whereas, on November 19th 2010 the committee on standards and official conduct canceled and has not rescheduled the adjudicatory hearing for a Member of Congress, previously scheduled for November 29th 2010

Whereas such a delay violates a Members due process rights and the rules of the committee

Whereas all of these actions have subjected the committee to public ridicule, produced contempt for the ethics process, created the public perception that the committee's purpose was to unjustly impugn the integrity of a Member of the House, and weakened the ability of the committee to properly conduct its investigative duties, all of which has brought discredit to the House; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That-

1

(1) the Speaker shall appoint a bipartisan task force with equal representation of the majority and minority parties to investigate the circumstances and cause of the decision to place professional staff of

the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on indefinite administrative leave and to make recommendations to restore public confidence in the ethics process, including disciplinary measures for both staff and Members where needed; and

(2) the task force report its findings and recommendations to the House of Representatives during the second session of this Congress.