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Rep. Maxine Waters blasts ethics panel and media, defends links to OneUnited

The House ethics committee announced that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) will face trial for her role in steering federal funds to a bank to which she is personally connected. She denies any wrongdoing. Her career in photos:

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The legal arguments Waters and Moore detailed Friday had already been hashed out in memos between her attorneys and the ethics committee. They will probably be resolved in a trial later this year, as Waters has refused to accept any admonishment from the ethics committee. The controversy is not expected to affect her ability to win reelection in her heavily Democratic district.

But the 71-year-old Waters, who was first elected in 1990, seems determined to not only convince her colleagues of her innocence but defend her reputation. For Waters, a combative figure on Capitol Hill, going public with her defense is perfectly in character.

She criticized the ethics committee, which consists of five Democrats and five Republicans, for taking too long to investigate her case, even though she said it "ignored or disregarded key pieces of exculpatory evidence."

She attacked the media for covering her ethics scandals but not her longtime work in pressing for minorities to get more government contracts and other federal aid, which she says was the reason she aided black-owned banks during the financial crisis.

"The system has not adequately recognized that it is not open and available to everybody," she said. "I, as an African American woman, must be aware of what I can do to open up the system to everybody."

Addressing the two dozen reporters and photographers in attendance, she added, "I would love for your newspapers and your television stations to be interested in this work, but normally it's not sexy enough, it's not interesting enough, so I don't get heard and others who do this kind of work don't get heard.

"But now we're in the middle of an investigation and the discussion is on."

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