Ethics broadens Waters probe to examine communications with key committee

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The House Ethics Committee is said to have broadened its inquiry into Rep. Maxine Waters by examining whether the Financial Services Committee fully complied with requests to turn over documents. Waters was scheduled to go on trial last month for inappropriately using her position in Congress to aid a bank that her husband had an ownership stake in in receiving money from the government bank bailout fund. That trial was delayed due to the revelation of a new e-mail that could be used as corroborating evidence. The revelation of that e-mail has led to broader questions of whether there is other evidence being withheld.

The Washington Post reports:

Four officials, congressional staff members, and others familiar with the probe confirmed on Thursday that her trial was postponed two weeks ago in part to explore the delay in not turning over that e-mail and to examine whether other evidence was withheld.

The action is part of an overall broadening of the Waters inquiry by the committee to look more deeply at her office’s interactions with senior aides to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), on legislation meant to help the bank, according to the sources.

Some committee members are concerned that the Waters investigative team did not have access to all the records, in part because they did not press for them diligently enough. Others on the staff have expressed concern that evidence may have been inappropriately withheld.

Frank states that, “I instructed my staff to turn over every document in personal office and committee files. I have every reason to believe they did that.”

The Post article, however, shows that, “The e-mail surfaced because investigators started interviewing a former Frank aide, John Hughes, in September. They asked him at the time if he had any relevant documents, and he reported that he did not. But then they asked him in October to be a witness at Waters’s trial, and when he checked again for documents, he found the e-mail and turned it over, according to a source close to Hughes.”

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