Reporting Dave Bryan
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A three-year investigation of Congresswoman Maxine Waters on possible ethics violations ended with the Los Angeles representative being cleared of any wrongdoing.
Waters had been accused of steering federal bailout funds to a bank in which her husband owned stock.
A special outside counsel reported to the House Ethics Committee that there was no evidence that Waters knowingly violated Congressional standards or rules, reported CBS2 and KCAL9 political reporter Dave Bryan.
Billy Martin, the special counsel told the committee, “The evidence in the record does not support a knowing violation of ethics rules or any standard of conduct with respect to Rep. Maxine Waters.”
Bryan reports, “Those were the words Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been waiting to hear.”
Waters asked for a meeting with the Treasury Department in 2008 to help minority banks get some federal bailout help, but at the meeting the discussion reportedly focused only on Boston-based OneUnited Bank, where her husband — Sidney Williams — had sat on the board and held about $350,000 in stock.
Three months later, One United received $12 million in bailout funds.
But Martin says Waters believed her phone call was on behalf of all minority banks. He told the committee, “The evidence supports that she was acting on behalf of a large group of banks. We found no evidence to support that her phone call to arrange the meeting violated any House rule or any other standard of conduct.”
Waters’ grandson and chief of staff, Mikhail Moore, was also a target of the investigation.
He was accused of also pushing for federal funds for OneUnited, but he claimed he didn’t know his grandfather was a stockholder. “Despite the seemingly clear finding,” he testified, “the committee disagrees and applies the standard of not what I knew or what the evidence displays, but rather what the committee believes I should have known. This, I believe, is an impossible standard to meet or defend.”
Bryan says Moore could still be scolded for his conduct but his grandmother walks away unscathed.
If Democrats win control of the House, Waters is in line to chair the powerful House Financial Services Committee.
Waters’ exoneration puts the finishing touches on what was a wildly partisan battle. Things got so heated, reports Bryan, that last February all five Republicans on the committee bolted. The ranking Democrat also stepped aside in favor of the outside counsel who was brought in to clean things up.