The pending ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) should take place before the mid-term elections, Republicans on the House Ethics Committee demanded Tuesday in a prepared statement.
Responding to their call, Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) accused conservative members of the committee of attempting to wield their power as a political “weapon”.
“Congressman Rangel and Congresswoman Waters must answer for their actions, but when all five Republican members on the House Ethics Committee call for ethics trials to be scheduled right before an election, it sends the wrong message to the American people,” the group said in an advisory.
Republicans had accused their Democratic counterparts of delaying the trials until after the elections.
“Members of the committee have repeatedly expressed their willingness and desire to move forward with public trials of these matters and have repeatedly made themselves available to the chairwoman for October settings,” they said.
The statement was signed by all five Republican members of the committee.
“The Ethics Committee should not be a weapon that members use to score political points, rather it must be a tool available to the American people to ensure that every member of Congress is behaving in a manner worthy of her or her office,” CREW insisted.
Should the trials happen before November, Democrats expect them to generate negative headlines that would tarnish the party’s chances with voters. The Republicans’ request to try both members in October is unlikely to be granted, as a Democrat current chairs the committee.
Charges against Rangel were first outlined by the committee in July. He’s accused of 13 different violations, including the failure to report over $600,000 of assets. Waters was accused of helping procure a $12 million federal bailout for a bank where her husband was an investor and member of the board.
Both deny the charges and have called for hasty trials.