Maxine Waters

Ethics Trial Expected for California Congresswoman

By ERIC LIPTON, The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, will face charges of misusing her office and is expected to contest the claims in a House trial, the second powerful House Democrat to opt for such a public airing in recent days, Congressional officials said Friday.

A House ethics subcommittee has charged Ms. Waters, 71, a 10-term congresswoman, in a case involving communications that she had with the top executive of a bank that her husband owned stock in while it was applying for a federal bailout in 2008, two House officials said.

Charges are expected to be announced next week, several Congressional officials said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the proceedings remained confidential. Details of the specific accusations of wrongdoing were not available Friday evening.

The expected trial, coming just after the start of a similar proceeding on Thursday for Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York, would be a modern-day precedent for the House, Congressional officials said. At no time in at least the last two decades have two sitting House members faced a public hearing detailing allegations against them.

It would also be an embarrassment for the Congressional Black Caucus. Ms. Waters and Mr. Rangel are two of its most revered and long-standing members, and both have spent decades as key leaders in banking and financial services issues in the House.

Mikael Moore, Ms. Waters’s chief of staff, declined to comment on the case on Friday, saying that the congresswoman had not been formally notified of any action by the ethics committee.

Ms. Waters, at the time the investigation by the House ethics panel began last fall, was accused of intervening on behalf of OneUnited, a Boston-based bank. The Times reported last year that Ms. Waters called Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in 2008, as the economy was in a free fall, to ask him to host a special meeting with executives from black-owned banks.

As a key House player on the Financial Services Committee, Ms. Waters often called Mr. Paulson. He agreed to arrange the requested meeting, The New York Times reported last year.

What Mr. Paulson did not know at the time was that Ms. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, owned stock in and had served on the board of OneUnited, whose chief executive turned the Treasury headquarters meeting into a special appeal for bailout assistance. The executive of the institution, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, asked for $50 million in federal aid, The Times reported.

To read more, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/31/us/politics/31waters.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&src=mv&adxnnlx=1280581543-WsDevno1EHZ8M3JDchOt3g

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