House Ethics Announces Three Charges Against Waters

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August 9, 2010 8:20 a.m.
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The House ethics committee today announced the specific charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), accusing her of improperly using her office to help a bank in which her husband owned stock.

The list of charges, called a statement of alleged violation, details three rules Waters allegedly broke: one, that members must “reflect creditably on the House;” two, that members may not “receive compensation” by improperly using their Congressional influence; and three, that members should never “dispense special favors” or “accept for himself or his family favors or benefits.”According to the ethics committee, Waters improperly used her influence as a Congresswoman to help OneUnited, a bank in which her husband held stock.

Here’s what happened, according to the committee: In September 2008, the bank reached out to Waters — who has a reputation of helping minority-owned banks — and asked for her help. The bank had been heavily invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When the mortgage giants went into government conservatorship, OneUnited was nearly wiped out. So the bank asked Waters to set up a meeting with Treasury officials.

According to the committee, she did. The bank asked the Treasury officials for $50 million to compensate it for the money it lost, but they refused — there was no legal way to do so.

That same month, Waters spoke to Rep. Barney Frank, the chair of the banking committee, and told him her husband had once sat on the board of OneUnited. According to the committee, she didn’t mention that he also still held stock. (Some $350,000, which dropped to $175,000 by Sept. 30.)

Frank told her “not to get involved” and that he would handle things related to OneUnited. Waters agreed.

But her chief of staff (and grandson), Mikael Moore, stayed in contact with OneUnited. Eventually, Congress approved TARP. OneUnited applied, was approved and received $12 million.

According to the ethics committee, “If OneUnited failed, Respondent’s husband’s investment in OneUnited would have been worthless.”

The committee says Waters should have told her chief of staff to stay out of the OneUnited case.

Waters has maintained her innocence.

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