Ethics groups demand answers from House committee

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Kitty Felde/KPCC

Maxine Waters at a press conference on ethics charges, August 13, 2010

The US House Ethics Committee postponed the trial of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles four months ago. Now, a coalition of public interest groups is asking for an end to the delay.

The ethics investigation has been on hold since the committee suspended a pair of lawyers last November. Neither works for the committee any more. Now half a dozen groups, including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, have written to the House Ethics Committee to ask what’s next.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, signed the letter that questions whether the committee is doing its job.

"We don’t know if they’re going to hire an outside counsel, if they’re going to start over with their investigation, or if they’re going to continue from where they were, which seems like the least likely frankly, because there were so many problems and questions raised about that investigation," says Sloan, adding that it’s unfair to leave Congresswoman Waters in limbo while the investigation stalls.

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of Lakewood, the ranking member on the Ethics Committee, says she and her GOP colleague Jo Bonner of Alabama have been interviewing candidates to replace the two lawyers and the chief of staff who has resigned.

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