Waters Keeps Fight Against Ethics Charges in Forefront

Posted September 16, 2010 at 4:20pm

A rally in support of Rep. Maxine Waters on Thursday was the California Democrat’s latest move in her aggressive defense strategy against charges that she violated House rules.

Waters’ office, which organized volunteers at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, also distributed thousands of buttons and fliers urging support for Waters. Another rally is scheduled for Friday.

The rallies coincide with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference, which is being held this week at the convention center. Waters attended a panel at the conference Thursday. She thanked the volunteers but did not participate in the rally, according to Mikael Moore, her chief of staff.

“We want to engage as many people as possible in the conversation,” Moore said. “Let’s have the conversation, let’s have it openly.”

Moore said Waters’ volunteers are also stationed at a pair of hotels near the convention center.

“It’s definitely in line with aggressive transparency,” Moore said Thursday.

An investigative subcommittee of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct charged Waters in August with violating the chamber’s rules.

The subcommittee alleges that Moore, who is both Waters’ top aide and her grandson, tried to secure federal support for a bank in which Waters and her husband held hundreds of thousands of dollars of stock.

Waters launched a forceful public defense of her actions, including a mid-August news conference during which she announced she will not negotiate a settlement with the ethics panel.

The ethics charges stem from a September 2008 meeting Waters arranged between the National Bankers Association and the Treasury Department. It included Bankers Association officials who also worked for OneUnited Bank, in which her husband owned stock and had previously served on the board.

When OneUnited officials continued to seek federal funds after that meeting, Waters, acting on advice from Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), recused herself from involvement because it could be viewed as a conflict of interest.

But the investigative subcommittee found that Waters violated House rules because she did not direct her staff to also stop work on OneUnited’s behalf. The bank later received $12 million in federal funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Waters has disputed the allegations, stating that TARP did not exist at the time of the initial meeting.