Rep. Waters denies violating ethics rules

Aug. 2, 2010 at 8:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., denied Monday she violated House ethics rules by helping steer federal funds to a bank with ties to her husband.

"I have not violated any House rules," the longtime Los Angeles congresswoman said in a statement issued soon after the House Ethics Committee formally announced charges against her. "Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do."

Waters said she would respond in detail to the allegations at congressional hearings.

The investigation focuses on whether Waters violated ethics rules by arranging a September 2008 meeting between Treasury Department officials and OneUnited Bank. The Los Angeles-headquartered bank received $12 million in TARP funds three months later when her husband, Sidney Williams, was a OneUnited stockholder and former board member, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The ethics panel released a report Monday by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which urged further investigation of "Representative Waters' apparent recognition of conflict of interest."

The report said Waters had told "Representative A" about "a problem with OneUnited but that she didn't know what to do about it" because of her husband's links to the bank. The Times said "Representative A" is believed to be Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who has said publicly he urged Waters to "stay out of it" because he knew her husband had served on the bank's board.

Waters, chairwoman of the Financial Services subcommittee on housing and community opportunity, noted she had sought help for minority-owned banks other than OneUnited and said the 2008 meeting "was requested and scheduled on behalf" of the National Bankers Association, a trade group representing minority-owned banks, "not on behalf of OneUnited Bank, as has been suggested."

She said evidence will show "in advocating on behalf of minority banks, neither my office nor I benefit ted in any way" or "engaged in improper action."

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