It took more than three years, the suspension of two staff attorneys and an independent investigator to review its handling of the case, but the House Ethics Committee on Friday cleared California Rep. Maxine Waters of allegations that she sought a federal bailout for OneUnited bank, in which her husband owned a significant number of shares. Mikael Moore, the lawmaker's chief of staff, may not be as lucky.
Throughout the inquiry, Waters, a top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, denied any wrongdoing and argued that a meeting she arranged with the Treasury Department during the financial crisis was on behalf of all minority banks. OneUnited ultimately received $12 million from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to help offset losses from investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Billy Martin, a prominent Washington attorney hired to review the case against her and the panel's handling of it, told the committee on Friday that there was no evidence that she had violated any rules.
Moore, who also is Waters' grandson, may receive a letter of reproval because of his role in the case, although he denies any knowledge his grandfather owned $350,000 worth of stock in the bank.
Without the case hanging over her head, Waters will likely become the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee or even chairman if Democrats succeed in taking back the House.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)