Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House Ethics Committee had a busy year

It was a busy year for the House Ethics Committee.

In its end-of-the-year report, the House Ethics Committee says it met 35 times in 2012. That's more than twice the number of meetings in the year before.

A great part of the committee's time is spent training Congressional staffers about the rules and regulations. It also answers questions - a lot of them, apparently. Over the past two years, the committee fielded 40 thousand requests for "guidance" from staffers via phone, email or personal visits to the Ethics office.

The other side to the House Ethics Committee is its investigative work.

Over the past two years, it looked into nearly 100 different matters. The committee publicly addressed 27 of its investigations - just under a third of the total cases.

Several of those cases involved Californians.

Read More...

LA Democrat Maxine Waters snags key committee post

Mercer 20547

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters has served on the House Financial Services Committee for more than two decades.

Los Angeles Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been unanimously elected top Democrat on the powerful House Financial Services Committee.

It's the job Waters has been waiting for. The L.A. Democrat has served on the committee for more than two decades and is known for her advocacy for community and minority banks. In a statement after her election to the post, Waters said: "I believe we need a financial system that facilitates economic opportunity and wealth creation for all."

Waters thanked the outgoing ranking member, Barney Frank of Massachusetts. And she vowed to "protect, defend and implement" the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, better known as Dodd-Frank, which was passed after the financial crisis:

"I understand that regulatory certainty is an important aspect of growing our economy, and remain committed to ensuring clear and transparent regulation which creates the space for innovation, safety and soundness."

Read More...

California voters largely ignored June primary; Congress has some theories why

California Voters Participate In The State's Pivotal Primary

David McNew/Getty Images

Voter turnout in June was the lowest ever for a California presidential primary. One member of Congress says voters are asking, "What difference does it make?”

Californians stayed home for June’s primary election in record numbers. Two out of three registered voters did not cast a ballot, the lowest turnout ever in a California presidential primary.

Political experts — those who run for office every two years — have a few theories about why voters were so turned off and whether things will be different in November.

Democrats had plenty of reasons: St. Helena's Mike Thompson blames it on the lack of suspense — "We knew who our presidential standard bearer was going to be"; Jackie Speier of San Mateo figures it's voter fatigue because the "campaigning has been going on for so long"; Anaheim's Loretta Sanchez says members of Congress are also to blame because "we all saved our money for a general election."

Democratic Congressman Jim Costa of Fresno points out one other thing missing from the June ballot: propositions. "That usually attracts voter interest." 

Read More...

Maxine Waters expected to be cleared of ethics charges; committee focuses on chief of staff

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, was under investigation for alleged ethics violations.

After three years of investigation, the special investigator for the House Ethics Committee says there's no evidence Congresswoman Maxine Waters violated any House rule. The committee is expected to accept the investigator's recommendation to clear Waters. However, the Committee is not ready to let the L.A. Democrat's chief of staff off the hook.

Billy Martin, the outside counsel for the House Ethics Committee says he thinks Mikael Moore, the grandson and chief of staff to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, violated the standards and rules of the House of Representatives.  The conclusion is based on a pair of emails that he says show Moore tried to assist OneUnited Bank.  What was unclear was whether the emails were sent after his boss, Congresswoman Waters, told him to not help a bank in which her husband owned stock. 

Read More...

At long last, Maxine Waters gets her ethics hearing

Mercer 20547

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA) on Friday will hear the result of an investigation against her by the House Ethics Committee.

Friday is the last workday for Congress before members return to their districts for the election homestretch. That's the day the House Ethics Committee picked to finally hold a hearing on charges against Congresswoman Maxine Waters — nearly two years after the committee's first attempt to take up the case.

The 11-term Democrat from South L.A. is accused of using her political influence to help a bank in which her husband owned stock. But the investigation has been delayed by allegations of impropriety and political gamesmanship that led to the departure of two staffers, committee members recusing themselves from the investigation, and the hiring of an outside investigator.

On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee announced the long-awaited hearing on the matter, a scant six weeks before the election. 

Read More...