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Maxine Waters maintains innocence as House outlines ethics violations

The House ethics committee released formal charges Monday against Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, that claim she improperly helped a bank in which her husband owned stock receive federal funds.

By Andrew HeiningStaff writer / August 9, 2010

In this Oct. 28, 2009 file photo, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Charles Dharapak/AP/File


Los Angeles

The House ethics committee released its formal charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D) of California Monday, opening the door to a trial before the panel this fall.

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Representative Waters and Mikael Moore, her grandson and chief of staff, are accused of improperly intervening in dealings between OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which Waters's husband owned stock, and the federal government.

The charges laid out in the 10-page "statement of alleged violation" say that by allowing Mr. Moore to help OneUnited obtain a meeting with the Treasury department that led to $12 million in bailout funds, Waters violated House rules that say members:

  • "Shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House."
  • "May not receive compensation and may not permit compensation to accrue to the beneficial interest of such individual from any source, the receipt of which would occur by virtue of influence improperly exerted from the position of such individual in Congress."

IN PICTURES: Ethically challenged Congressmen

Waters is the second congressional Democrat to be accused of ethics lapses in recent weeks. Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York faces 13 charges – including failing to pay taxes on a rental property in the Dominican Republic. He said Monday that he hoped to strike a plea deal to avoid an ethics trial.

Waters is also accused of violating the Code of Ethics for Government Service, which forbids those in government from dispensing special favors or privileges.

According to the charges against Waters, her husband Sidney Williams held stock in OneUnited valued at $350,000 as of June 30, 2008. By the time OneUnited met with Treasury officials in September, its value had dropped to $175,000.

OneUnited secured more than $12 million in Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds later that year, without which, the committee writes, Mr. Williams's "financial interest in OneUnited would have been worthless."