The House ethics committee will charge that Rep. Maxine Waters violated the chamber's rules after a yearlong investigation into allegations she tried to aid a bank in which her husband was invested, the committee said Monday.
The announcement comes less than a week after the committee formally entered 13 ethics charges against Rep. Charles B. Rangel, and marks the second long-serving black House member to be charged.
In a short notice the ethics committee said it will convene an adjudicatory panel at some time in the future, and released an 80-page report by the advisory Office of Congressional Ethics that says the congresswoman aided her husband.
Ms. Waters, a California Democrat in her 10th term in Congress, challenged the finding, saying she did not benefit from her advocacy. She said she's opted for a public hearing to try to clear her name.
"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 said.
The Office of Congressional Ethics said Ms. Waters requested in 2008 that Treasury Department officials meet with representatives from the National Bankers Association. But in both that meeting and other follow-ups, "the discussion centered on a single bank — OneUnited. Representative Waters' husband had been a board member of OneUnited from 2008 to 2008 and, at the time of the meeting, was a stock holder of the bank."
OCE said Ms. Waters even seemed to acknowledge the conflict of interest in a conversation with a fellow member, identified only as "Representative A," telling her colleague that she knew she should say no to OneUnited's requests for help, but the situation bothered her. The colleague warned her to "stay our of it" and promised to take up the cause himself, but Ms. Waters did involve herself anyway, OCE said.
Ms. Waters said she's been an advocate for minority-owned banks for years, and said her efforts were consistent with that.
She said she made one phone call asking for Treasury officials to meet with the NBA, and that she did not benefit from the move, particularly because the NBA-Treasury meeting "resulted in no action."
"The suggestion that I could gain personally from one phone call made to assist the National Bankers Association in getting a meeting with the Treasury Department is not credible," she said in a response released Monday afternoon.
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