• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Calif. Rep. Maxine Waters to stand trial

August 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Ethics violations charges were filed on Monday against Rep. Maxine Waters for allegedly trying to help a bank seeking a bailout. Her husband was a board member of that bank.Sidney Williams was involved with OneUnited Bank, which received a $12 million bailout. Waters helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at the Boston-based bank, and according to reports, Treasury Department officials were not told of her husband's ties to the bank.

Unless Waters negotiates a settlement, she may face a public ethics trial. The specific charges against Waters were not made public in the announcement Monday from the House Ethics Committee.

The 71-year-old Democrat from Los Angeles has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement released shortly after the charges were filed, Waters said, "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 also said in her statement that she "fully disclosed my assets as required by House rules, even going above and beyond the requirements by disclosing my assets at several Financial Services Committee hearings."

"In sum, the case against me has no merit," she said in the statement.

Waters has said the National Bankers Association, a trade group, requested the meeting, and she defended her role in assisting minority-owned banks in the midst of the nation's financial meltdown.

Another democrat, New York Congressman Charles Rangel, is also facing an ethics trial this fall on separate charges. He's accused of hiding income and avoiding taxes.

Both Waters and Rangel are prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the trials would be an embarrassment for the group. Dual ethics trials would also be a major political liability for Democrats, forcing them to defend their party's ethical conduct while trying to hold on to their House majority.

On "This Week," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeated a promise she made: "When I came in, I said we will drain the swamp, and we did. We had the most sweeping ethics reform in the history of Congress."

The people who know Maxine Waters in South Los Angeles like and respect her.

"She's a beautiful person, that's all I have to say about it," said South L.A. resident Wesley Bennett. "She's great, man. Can't find a better person."

"She has done everything she has set out to do," said South L.A. resident Fran Harrison. "I believe in her strongly."

Others are realistic about today's world.

"It doesn't surprise me, not in today's time," said Waters constituent Ashley Bryant. "I mean, everybody seems like they're under investigation for something."

Waters cancelled an appearance at an event Monday in South Los Angeles to which she had planned on going.

Jeffery Coprich, an organizer of the event, is standing by Waters. She was there for him when he lost his only daughter in a car accident.

She stood with me and my family," Coprich said. "That's what she does with a whole lot of families in South Los Angeles. We stand with her, and we support her."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


Load Comments