In the Nation

Posted: June 07, 2012

Probe of Waters gets the go-ahead

WASHINGTON - The House ethics committee concluded Wednesday that Rep. Maxine Waters' rights were not violated in an ongoing investigation, clearing the way for the panel to determine whether the California Democrat improperly tried to steer federal money to a bank where her husband is a shareholder.

Her allegations of unfair treatment led to the extraordinary decision in February by the committee's five Republicans and its top Democrat to step away from the case. Six new members were added to handle the investigation, and an outside lawyer, Billy Martin, was hired to investigate the committee's conduct.

The committee, which has five members from each party, investigates whether lawmakers violated House rules and can recommend punishment such as a reprimand, censure, or even expulsion. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, has denied wrongdoing.

A letter to Waters by the acting chairman, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R., Va.), and the acting top Democrat, Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, said Martin concluded that Waters' rights were protected and that there was no wrongdoing by lawmakers. But the letter cited unauthorized leaks of investigative information by committee staff and by Waters. - AP

D.C. Council chief quits after charge

WASHINGTON - District of Columbia Council Chairman Kwame Brown resigned in a letter effective immediately after being charged Wednesday with bank fraud. Brown, a Democrat, has been the subject of a long-running corruption investigation.

The charges were filed in the District's federal court in a "criminal information," a document that can only be filed with the defendant's consent and signals a plea deal is near, the officials said. Brown did not immediately return phone calls. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, Bill Miller, declined to comment.

A plea hearing is set for Friday morning in U.S. District Court. The charging document says that Brown provided Industrial Bank of Washington "falsified documents" that overstated his income by "tens of thousands of dollars" to allow him to obtain a home-equity loan and to purchase a boat. Prosecutors wrote that the two-year scam started in August 2005. - Washington Post

2 Calif. cities OK pension cutbacks

SAN DIEGO - Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved cuts to retirement benefits for city workers in what supporters said was a mandate that may lead to similar ballot initiatives in other states and cities.

Public employee unions that fought the measures weren't able to overcome the simple message supporters used to attract voters in San Diego and San Jose: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than what many private companies offer.

In San Diego, two-thirds of voters favored Proposition B, while the landslide was even greater in San Jose, the nation's 10th-largest city. With all precincts counted, 70 percent were in favor of Measure B. "The voters get it, they understand what needs to be done," said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. - AP

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