WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee officially laid out three charges of ethical misconduct Monday against Rep. Maxine Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, alleging the California Democrat violated standards when she intervened to assist a bank in which her husband held a financial stake.
The alleged violations stem from Waters' involvement with OneUnited Bank, in which her husband, Sidney Williams, owned $170,000 worth of stock. The panel claims that the California Democrat acted improperly by helping bank executives arrange a meeting with senior Treasury Department officials to ask for Troubled Asset Relief program funds.
The minority-owned institution was heavily invested in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and was on the brink of failure after the government-sponsored enterprises were taken over by the government in September 2008. It recovered only after it received $12 million in capital from Tarp in October of that year.
Waters has insisted she did nothing wrong, noting she always fought for minority institutions and has requested a rare formal trial.
In charges released Monay, the House ethics committee said Waters had failed to act "creditably" upon the House, and said she should not have been involved in helping the bank. The committee notes that Williams' holdings would have been worthless if the bank failed.
Waters is also charged with failing to adhere to the spirit of the House Rules prohibiting "receiving compensation by virtue of influence improperly exerted" and for violating a rule that says members shall "never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone."