Washington (CNN) – A California congresswoman under investigation by the House ethics committee delayed plans Thursday to force a House vote on a measure that would launch an investigation into the committee for its handling of her case.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, has been accused of seeking federal assistance for OneUnited Bank, a minority-owned bank in which her husband held a financial interest. She has vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly demanded a conclusion to the almost year-and-a-half-long investigation.
Instead, Waters demanded the committee's leadership "set the record straight on its own accord, in a bipartisan manner, with a joint statement signed by the Chair and Ranking Member." The statement should respect, she said, "the public's and this body's right to know the circumstances of the events that led to the discipline of the two attorneys leading the case against me."
In a speech to colleagues on the House floor, Waters – a 20-year veteran of the House and senior member of the House Financial Services Committee - cited media reports that two of the committee's attorneys leading the case against her were accused of misconduct.
She railed against the secrecy surrounding the committee and noted that no one seems to "know the circumstances surrounding (the attorneys') conduct, nor the disciplinary action taken against them."
Waters urged the ethics committee leadership to publicly explain the circumstances surrounding the disciplinary action and noted that, "although the committee is built on secrecy and confidentiality, it should have the ability to be flexible and provide transparency in extraordinary circumstances."
"This is one such extraordinary circumstance when the House as a whole and the public need the committee to review information so we can have confidence in the process," she said.
Waters' hearing before the House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct was scheduled to begin last month, but the committee announced before Thanksgiving that the proceeding had been canceled due to the discovery of e-mail communications that would potentially affect the case. The committee also suspended two staff lawyers working on the case but did not say why.
And it did not indicate whether or when the matter would be revisited.
Waters says she decided not to push for a vote on her "privileged resolution," after conferring with colleagues. Normally such a resolution would need to be voted on within two days of being introduced.
She left open the possibility of calling for a vote if the ethics committee does not act, however. The draft resolution asked the House to create a bipartisan task force to probe "the circumstances and cause of the decision" by the committee to place the staff lawyers on administrative leave. It also requests that the task force report its findings and recommendations to the House by the end of the current Congress.
After her hearing was postponed, Waters said she was denied "basic due process" and the decision not to move forward with her trial as planned "demonstrated in no uncertain terms the weakness of their case against me."