The day her long-awaited ethics trial was supposed to begin, Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Los Angeles) stepped up her attack on the case against her.
"I have been denied basic due process," Waters said Monday, standing in front of the empty Capitol Hill hearing room where the charges against her were to have been heard by a bipartisan panel of eight fellow lawmakers. Earlier this month, the trial was put off indefinitely.
Waters, a South Los Angeles political fixture since the 1970s, said the delay, after nearly a year and a half of investigation, "demonstrates in no uncertain terms the weakness of their case against me," and she castigated the Ethics Committee for "lack of decency."
"I want this issue resolved immediately," she said, "and I want my constituents to know that the person they reelected with 80% of the vote on Nov. 2 is doing exactly what they sent her here to do: fight for them. "
Committee members put off Waters' trial because they said they had found new evidence that warranted further investigation.
Waters is accused of intervening improperly on behalf of OneUnited bank, on whose board her husband served and in which he owned stock. Three months after she called then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson during the financial crisis to set up a September 2008 meeting between his staff and representatives of minority-owned banks, OneUnited received $12 million in federal bailout funds.
Waters, 72, has defended her actions, saying they were in keeping with her work to aid minority-owned businesses. She repeated on Monday that she had not received any financial benefit.
Waters said that although she was prepared to contest the charges, "the committee has denied me my opportunity to be heard. This type of behavior, lack of decency and professional decorum would not be accepted in a court of law, and it should not be accepted in the U.S. House of Representatives, the body responsible for making the laws."
She declined to discuss specifics of the case, saying, "I'm not going to try this case out here."
Her comments come the week that the House is expected to consider censuring Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) in an unrelated ethics case.