House subcommittee created to investigate Rep. Maxine Waters

By Ben Pershing
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 12:41 PM

The House ethics committee announced Thursday afternoon that it had voted to establish a subcommittee to investigate Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who is under scrutiny for her ties to a bank that received federal bailout money.

Waters's husband, Sidney Waters, previously served on the board of OneUnited Bank and owned between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of stock in the bank as of 2008, according to Waters's latest financial disclosure form. The subcommittee will look into whether Waters violated any laws or House rules when she arranged a September 2008 meeting at the Treasury Department for OneUnited, which was seeking federal help, and other minority-owned banks.

Treasury officials said they were not aware of Waters's ties to the bank when the meeting occurred, according to multiple press reports. OneUnited eventually got $12 million in federal funds through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

In a statement released by her office Thursday, Waters said: "My longtime advocacy on behalf of women- and minority-owned institutions is well known and appreciated by these institutions, which have been historically denied access to government regulators to address their concerns.

"I am confident that as the investigation moves forward the panel will discover that there are no facts to support allegations that I have acted improperly or violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct in performing my duties and discharging my responsibilities as a United States Representative."

The fact that the panel was probing Waters was made public in September, but Thursday's announcement signifies that the committee believes there is sufficient cause to escalate the investigation. The investigative subcommittee will be chaired by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and Rep. K. Michael Conaway (Tex.) will serve as the ranking Republican.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company