Rep. Waters Faces Formal Charges, Ready to Square Off

Another black lawmaker's in the hot seat.

By Jamilah King Aug 09, 2010

After a week of buzz, the House ethics committee has formally released its charges against Rep. Maxine Waters for her dealings with OneUnited Bank nearly two years ago. And Waters, who’s maintained an aggressive stance by urging the committee to basically get on with it, now has proper grounds to wage what’s sure to be a very public defense.

In total, Waters faces three charges. They boil down to receiving indirect benefits due to her husband’s position with Boston-based OneUnited bank and failing to properly oversee the work of her staff in its dealings with the company.(Read the actual statement here).

All of the charges and the evidence to support them include Waters’ family members. Her dealings with OneUnited were first scrutinized after it was revealed that her husband was a former board member and owned $350,000 worth of stock in the company. According to the allegations, he had already lost most of the money at the onset of the financial crisis, and stood to lose another $175,000 before Waters had set up a meeting in 2008 between OneUnited officials and then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

It’s then alleged that Waters’ chief of staff Mikael Moore, who’s also her grandson, took an active role in helping OneUnited officials request Treasury funds. The bank ultimately received $12 million in federal TARP funds.

Waters, a popular lawmaker who’s wielded considerable power in her South Los Angeles congressional district for more than two decades, is just the latest Congressional Black Caucus member to face ethics charges. Rep. Charlie Rangel’s facing 13 charges, and both have forced public trials in an effort to show racial bias on the part of Ethics Committee investigators, though the truth may be somewhat stickier.

In an interview last week on a Los Angeles radio station, maintained that she has done nothing wrong and will not take a deal if it’s offered.