WASHINGTON--The House Ethics Committee is extending a contract with an outside legal advisor on its case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), further delaying the 3-year-old case -- perhaps until the end of this year.
The contract calls for Washington lawyer Billy Martin, hired by the panel a year ago, to be paid up to $500,000. He and his firm received at least $376,000 through March 31, according to House spending reports.
The committee said in a statement that it is committed to resolving the case as early as possible “in a thorough, fair and deliberative manner.” The contract extends through Jan. 3, 2013, the end of the congressional session, although officials are hoping to conclude the matter sooner.
Martin was first hired to examine allegations that the committee acted improperly in its investigation of the South Los Angeles congresswoman. In June, the panel said the review found that her due process rights had not been violated.
Now, he is advising the committee, evenly made up of Democrats and Republicans, on how to proceed in the case.
Waters has been accused of intervening improperly on behalf of OneUnited Bank, on whose board her husband served from January 2004 to April 2008 and in which he owned stock. Waters has said that her actions were in keeping with her work to aid minority-owned businesses and that she didn’t benefit financially from her actions.
The case has taken on greater importance for the congresswoman, who is in line to succeed retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) as the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee next year. There was no immediate response from Waters’ office about the contract extension.