A week after U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel was charged with 13 ethics violations, House investigators announced a public trial to determine if Rep. Maxine Waters violated congressional rules.
Waters and Rangel are both Democrats and the upcoming trials may not bode well for voter support in November.
Waters’ trial will determine whether the congresswoman helped steer federal funds to a bank in which her husband owned stock, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Waters has strongly denied the accusations, in a statement released on her Web site, “Congresswoman Waters Challenges Investigation.”
“I have not violated any House rules,” Waters said. “Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing.”
Waters went on to note that she did not attend a meeting that is in question, where the National Bankers Association (NBA) contacted Treasury Department officials to discuss “concerns regarding the crisis facing minority banks.” The NBA represents the interests of minority-owned banks, Waters said, not just OneUnited Bank, where her husband has investments.
“I followed up on the association’s request by asking then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to schedule such a meeting, as did other members of Congress,” Waters continued. “Secretary Paulson recognized that the NBA’s concerns about the future of minority banks were valid and arranged for a meeting.
Waters said she did not attend the meeting or participate in conversation.
“However, the suggestion that I could gain personally from one phone call made to assists the National Bankers Association in getting a meeting with the Treasury Department is not credible,” Waters said. “Even the OCE acknowledges that the meeting resulted in no action. Although it leveled the accusation, the OCE also failed to show that I received any benefit or engaged in any ‘improper exercise of official influence.'”
Waters’ supporters are coming to her aid, with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) speaking out in a statement:
“Throughout her tenure in Congress and in the California State Legislature before that, Congresswoman Waters has been a tireless and effective advocate for underrepresented and underserved communities and institutions. She continues to be an important voice on those and many other issues and should not have her rights usurped by politicians or the press.”