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House ethics hearings on Rangel, Waters will be after elections

From Deirdre Walsh, CNN Congressional Producer
  • Both Democratic lawmakers are up for re-election
  • Republicans wanted the hearings before the November 2 vote
  • Panel chairwoman says the separate hearings will be later in November

Washington (CNN) -- The House ethics committee will hold trial-like hearings on allegations against two Democratic members -- Rep. Charles Rangel of New York and Rep. Maxine Waters of California -- after the November 2 congressional elections in which both are running, the panel's chairwoman announced Thursday.

A statement by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-California, who chairs the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, said the adjudication hearing for Rangel would be on November 15, and one for Waters would be on November 29.

Both Waters and Rangel had asked for speedy hearings to clear their names prior to the upcoming elections. Waters has denied the allegations against her, while Rangel has said he made mistakes but wasn't corrupt.

Committee Republicans recently made public an unprecedented call for the hearings to be prior to the November vote.

Lofgren's statement Thursday said the Republican statement contrasted with their position in committee discussions on the adjudication hearings, and that she was therefore exercising her authority to set the hearing schedule herself.

She noted that preparing for the hearings required "substantial actions."

There was no immediate comment from either Waters or Rangel.

Waters, a 10-term Los Angeles congresswoman, is alleged to have helped steer federal bailout money to Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank -- in which her husband had a financial stake.

Rangel, a 20-term veteran from Harlem, is accused of 13 violations of House rules involving alleged financial wrongdoing and harming the credibility of Congress.

Among other things, Rangel has been accused of using his influence to solicit donations for a college policy center bearing his name from corporate heads and others with business before the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Rangel was chairman of the committee until he was forced to give up the leadership position this year because of the pending allegations.

Other charges involve alleged income tax and financial disclosure violations, as well as improper use of government mail service and letterhead. Despite the allegations, Rangel easily won the Democratic primary in September.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this story.