An investigative subcommittee has found substantial reason to believe that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) violated House ethics rules. The Office of Congressional Ethics late Monday released its findings in report documenting the black lawmakerâ€™s role in allegedly helping to secure $12 million in federal bailout funds for OneUnited Bank (No. 2 on the BE 100 Banks list with $549.6 million in assets), a company in which her husband owned stock. He had also served on the bankâ€™s board of directors from 2004 to 2008.
Waters firmly denies any wrongdoing.
â€śI 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,â€ť she said in a statement issued by her office. Waters in now the second powerful, black lawmaker facing an ethics trial before the midterm elections. Last week Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-New York) was charged with 13 counts of rule violations, including using federal resources to solicit donations for a center at City College of New York named in his honor.
According to the OCE report, Waters violated House rules on conflict of interest when she arranged for a meeting between the National Bankers Association and the Treasury Department in September 2008. Her husband, Sidney Williams, owned $100,000 to $250,000 of the bankâ€™s stock at the time. The report also states that Waters recognized she â€śwas in a predicamentâ€ť because his of his involvement in the bank. In addition, the meeting, which appeared to focus on just one bankâ€”OneUnitedâ€”was attended by two NBA officers, one of whom also held a high-level position at the bank. According the report, Robert Cooper, the bankâ€™s vice president/senior counsel and at the time NBA chairman-elect, may have used the latter position â€śin a preferential position with the Treasury Department.â€ť Neither he nor bank chairman Kevin Cohee, who also attended the meeting, have responded to multiple requests for interviews and OCE is recommending that they be subpoenaed.
An eight-member panel will “determine whether any counts in the statement of alleged violation have been proved by clear and convincing evidence,â€ť the according to a statement issued by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, and release its findings when Congress returns from summer recess in September.