The House ethics committee formally charged Rep. Maxine Waters, D.-Calif., with three counts of ethics wrongdoing Monday, for alleged intervention on behalf of a bank, in which her husband had sizeable investments.
According to documents released Monday, Waters arranged meetings with Treasury officials on behalf of OneUnited Bank in September of 2008. The bank was losing money at the time on mortgage-related assets. It asked Treasury officials for $50 million in financial assistance in an attempt to stave off bankruptcy.
Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, had been on the bank's board and held stock worth approximately $350,000 in June of 2008. By September, at the time of the meetings with Treasury officials, the value of his investments had fallen to $175,000.
The committee's investigation determined that Waters' congressional staff assisted OneUnited in arranging meetings with Treasury officials and by drafting legislation that would pave the way for the U.S. Treasury to purchase certain assets that would have aided OneUnited.
In October, when Congress passed the Trouble Asset Relief Program, part of the language was written to include OneUnited. The bank did apply for, and received TARP funds.
The ethics committee added that Waters, because she is married to Williams, benefited financially from the intervention of her staff on behalf of OneUnited. It also charges that she should have told her staff that she could not be involved with assisting OneUnited because she stood to earn money from the arrangement.
The announcement opens the way for a fall trial for the 10-term representative from Los Angeles before an eight-member ethics committee comprised of four Democrats and four Republicans.
Waters has denied the charges and has asked to have them dismissed, a motion denied by the committee.