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Maxine Waters Charged with Three Ethics Violations

Maxine Waters

The House ethics committee today released three charges of ethical wrongdoing against Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

The charges relate to whether Waters gave inappropriate assistance to a bank to which she had personal connections in getting federal bailout money.

The committee says Waters organized a meeting in 2008 between Treasury officials and executives from OneUnited Bank, where her husband was once a board member and had large investments. The bank received $12 million from the federal government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

The first charge against Waters states she violated a House rule that members must "behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." Waters should have instructed her chief of staff to stop assisting OneUnited once it became clear she should not be involved in helping the bank, but she failed to do so, the charges state.

Her staff's "continued involvement in assisting OneUnited created an appearance that [Waters] was taking official action for [Waters'] personal benefit, which did not reflect creditably on the House," the charges state.

Waters was also charged with violating the "spirit" of the House rule that prohibits a member from receiving compensation for exerting improper influence from her position in Congress. Waters' husband's investments in OneUnited constituted compensation, according to the charges.

The congresswoman was also charged with violating the Code of Ethics for Government Service.

Waters, who serves on the House Financial Services Committee, has defended her request for the meeting between Treasury officials and OneUnited executives as part of her efforts to advocate on behalf of minority-owned businesses. She maintains she is innocent of any wrongdoing and would rather face a public trial before the ethics committee this fall than admit to any of the charges against her.

House Democrat Charlie Rangel was also charged with multiple ethics violations this summer and will stand trial before the committee in the fall.