An independent ethics office accused Rep. Maxine Waters of violating House conflict-of-interest rules by intervening on behalf of a minority-owned bank in which her husband held $250,000 worth of stock, according to a report released Monday by the House ethics committee as part of its preparation for a "trial" of the California Democrat.
The report, written in August 2009 by the Office of Congressional Ethics, became the basis of a full-scale investigation of Waters by the ethics committee. A special bipartisan investigative panel of the committee has found "substantial reason to believe" that Waters violated House rules.
Waters, the No. 3 Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. She is choosing to go to trial rather than admit violating ethics rules through a plea.
Waters countered the OCE report — and the ethics committee's as-yet-unreleased-findings — with a scathing criticism of the probe into her dealings with OneUnited Bank.
"I have not violated any House rules. Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing," Waters said in a lengthy written rebuttal to the OCE document. "Starting with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) report released today, the record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone. ... In sum, the case against me has no merit."
Waters's response suggests she'll go into her trial with guns blazing. (Continues here)