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Ethics panel may extend probe into 2012

Dec. 1, 2011 at 8:53 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The House Ethics Committee indicated it would extend the contract of an independent counsel investigating the bungled probe of Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Unclear was whether the extension indicated the outside lawyer, Billy Martin, found evidence of wrongdoing within the committee or whether he hasn't finished the initial stage of investigating the Waters matter, Roll Call reported Thursday.

Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala., testifying before the House Administration Committee Wednesday, said "[Our] hopes and estimates for a quick resolution to Mr. Martin's work may not be realized. While no final conclusions have been reached about whatever the 'next steps' in this process might encompass, it is highly possible that the contract with Mr. Martin will need to be extended into next year."

The ethics panel hired Martin in July to investigate actions by committee staffers during the Waters investigation, and determine how and if the probe should continue.

Waters has been accused of improperly using her office to aid a minority-owned bank where her husband held more than $350,000 in stock.

Just days before a public ethics hearing was to begin in November 2010, the committee announced that new information surfaced and the Waters matter would be postponed. Internal committee e-mail in July suggested the delay was prompted by concerns raised by the panel's former staff director that in-fighting on the panel compromised the integrity of its investigation.

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