Waters on trial for House ethics charges

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

California House Democrat Maxine Waters has been charged with violating ethics rules by a House ethics panel. The charges have not been disclosed.

A United States House of Representatives ethics panel has charged Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) with violating unspecified ethics rules, making her the second Democrat in a week to be charged with ethical violations.

Since 2008, the Office of Congressional Ethics has investigated Waters for requesting a meeting with former Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson. Although the meeting was supposed to be about minority-owned banks, the actual conversation focused on one bank, OneUnited. Water's husband, Sidney Williams, had been a stock-holder and board member in the bank at the time.

OneUnited later received US$12 million in bailout funds, and an unnamed member of Congress said that Waters had been unsure how to deal with OneUnited, which had been near collapse, "because Sidney's been on the board."

A statement from the panel does not disclose when it will state the charges or say how many there are.

Waters released a statement stating "I have not violated any House rules. Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing."

She also vowed to take the case to a public trial, and also said "The record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone."

Waters has represented her district in South Central Los Angeles, California for 20 years.

This incident comes just five days after another House Democrat, Charlie Rangel of New York was charged with thirteen ethics violations. Rangel's charges range from tax evasion to donations he solicited for an education center bearing his name.