Waters won't settle ethics charges, wants House trial
By Ben Pershing
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has decided against settling potential House ethics charges for her role in helping to steer federal funds to a bank, choosing instead to proceed to a trial, a source familiar with the process said Friday night.
Waters's decision means that her case will be heard by an adjudicatory subcommittee of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. She will become the second high-profile Democrat -- and member of the Congressional Black Caucus -- to face such an ordeal in the coming months, along with Rep. Charles E. Rangel (D-N.Y.).
Waters's office declined to comment on the issue, and the ethics panel has not issued any statements on the case. Her decision was first reported by Politico.
Waters is facing scrutiny for her efforts to arrange meetings in 2008 between Treasury Department officials and minority-owned banks, including representatives from OneUnited Bank. One of the sessions was geared toward ensuring that the banks received a share of bailout funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and OneUnited got $12.1 million in TARP money soon after the second meeting.
Waters reportedly did not tell Treasury Department officials that she had personal and financial ties to OneUnited. Waters's husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank's board of directors and owned shares in the company worth at least $500,000. Waters herself had previously owned shares in the bank herself but sold them years earlier.
Waters has said that she was simply trying to help minority-owned institutions get their fair share from the government.
Responding last October to the news that the ethics committee had voted to create an investigative subcommittee to probe her case, Waters said: "I am confident that, as the investigation moves forward, the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly or violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, or regulation or other standard of conduct in performing my duties and discharging my responsibilities as a United States Representative."
The ethics committee took up the Waters case after a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-independent body charged with vetting allegations of misconduct against lawmakers and recommending possible further action by the ethics committee. Several members of the black caucus have complained about the OCE's methods and have signed onto legislation that would weaken its charter.
July 30, 2010; 10:57 PM ET
Categories: Capitol Briefing
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