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House ethics panel announces Rep. Waters trial

WASHINGTON — Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will face a trial for her role in steering federal funds to a bank to which she is personally connected, the House ethics committee announced Monday, setting the stage for a September that will be dominated by news of House Democrats' legal travails.

With an initial investigatory subcommittee having completed its work, the ethics panel said it had created an adjudicatory subcommittee to "determine whether any counts in the Statement of Alleged Violation (against Waters) have been proved by clear and convincing evidence and to make findings of fact."

A similar subcommittee launched its trial last week of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., with work in that case scheduled to resume in September.

The ethics panel did not specify when it would hold its first public hearing in the Waters case, though September is the likeliest time for that proceeding to start as well.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Jo Bonner, R-Ala., — the chair and ranking member, respectively, of the full ethics committee — will hold the same titles on the adjudicatory subcommittee examining the charges against Waters. Lofgren is also the head of the Rangel subcommittee.

Waters is being investigated for her role in arranging meetings between Treasury Department officials and representatives of minority-owned banks, including OneUnited Bank. Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, formerly served on the board of directors of OneUnited and continues to own stock in the company.

OneUnited got $12.1 million in TARP funds after meetings Waters helped arrange, and Treasury officials have alleged that they never knew of her personal ties to the bank.

The ethics committee Monday released an 80-page report on Waters produced last year by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the quasi-independent body charged with vetting allegations of wrongdoing against members.

The OCE referred the case to the ethics committee last August, with its bipartisan board of former members and congressional officials voting unanimously in finding Waters might have violated House rules governing conflicts of interest and that her actions merited further scrutiny.

Waters' office issued a lengthy statement Monday denying any wrongdoing.

House ethics panel announces Rep. Waters trial 08/02/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 2, 2010 10:27pm]
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