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AP: Waters Will Face Three Charges in Ethics Case

Correction Appended

Rep. Maxine Waters will face three counts of violating House rules when she is called before a special House ethics subcommittee sometime this fall, the Associated Press reported Monday.

The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced Monday that the California Democrat will face an ethics trial at an unspecified date, after an investigative panel found substantial reason to believe that she violated House rules.

The panel did not detail the allegations against Waters, but she has been the subject of an investigation since October 2009. It focused on her relationship with the National Bankers Association and OneUnited Bank and her role in the decision to provide $12 million in federal bailout funds to the latter in 2009.

Waters’ husband, Sidney Williams, had served on OneUnited Bank’s board until April 2008 and owned $100,000 to $250,000 in the company’s stock at the end of 2009.

According to the AP, Waters will be charged with violating two clauses of House Rule XXIII, which prohibits Members from exerting their influence for personal gain, as well as a general provision that requires Members to “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

The AP, citing unnamed sources, also said Waters faces allegations that she violated the code of ethics for government service — specifically a provision that bars Members from granting or accepting special favors that could be viewed as influencing official actions.

Waters becomes the second lawmaker to move toward an ethics trial in the 111th Congress, only days after the House ethics committee initiated proceedings in an unrelated investigation of Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

The ethics committee announcement said ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) will chair the adjudicatory panel that will judge Waters, but it did not specify when the panel will meet. The House is in recess until mid-September.

The adjudicatory subcommittee, composed of four Democratic and four Republican lawmakers, will determine whether Waters violated any rules. Both Waters and ethics committee counsel could present evidence and call witnesses to testify during the trial.

If the adjudicatory panel finds Waters culpable, the ethics committee would convene to determine a punishment. The full House would be called on to vote on sanctions rising to the level of a reprimand, censure or expulsion from the chamber.

Correction: August 3, 2010

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Rep. Maxine Waters may have violated federal law; in fact, the Associated Press reported she is alleged to have violated the Code of Ethics for Government Service and House rules.

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