Rangel, Waters Ethics Trials Set

Embattled Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) wanted their days in court to defend themselves against ethics allegations.

Now they're going to get them.

The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday it would conduct two, distinct ethics trials for Rangel and Waters after the midterm elections.

The Rangel session is set for November 15. Waters goes before the panel November 29.

Both wanted ethics trials before fellow lawmakers to defend themselves against allegations of wrongdoing. But both wanted the trials wrapped up before the midterm elections.

In September, Rangel told FOX that it was "unfair for them not to (hold an ethics trial) before the election."

Last week, Republican members of the Ethics Committee took the rare step of publicly admonishing Democratic leaders for not setting ethics trial dates and demanding the House hold the forums before November.

Ethics Committee members rarely comment in public, let alone make statements criticizing the other side.

In the joint statement agreed upon by all Members of the Ethics Committee, lawmakers underscored that investigators "bear the burden of proof to establish the facts alleged" in both cases "and be prepared to meet a higher burden of proof than that used in the investigative subcommittee phase."

During these sessions, Rangel and Waters will be allowed to present arguments and evidence to defend themselves. Members of the subcommittees that separately probed both members must then vote to determine if Rangel and Waters are "guilty" of the charges.

The committee can then recommend sanctions. The full House may have to vote to penalize either lawmaker if they are found to have violated Congressional rules.

Rangel is accused of tax and financial irregularities. Ethics investigators allege Waters used her position in the House to boost a bank on which her husband held stock.

Both deny the allegations.

The offices of both lawmakers declined comment Thursday after the announcement of the ethics hearings. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also declined comment.

In November, 2008, Pelosi issued a statement saying she looked forward to reading the Ethics Committee report on Rangel when it was concluded at the end of the last Congress.