House ethics committee calls off Waters trial

The House ethics committee has called off the trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who was accused of using her influence to help a floundering bank secure TARP aid, after discovering new evidence, the committee announced today.

According to the statement, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct voted to send Waters' case back to its investigative subcommittee due to new evidence that could have affected the subcomittee's decision to refer the case to the full committee. As a result, the Nov. 29 trial won't be held, although presumably, it could be rescheduled.

The announcement came a day after the committee recommended that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) face censure.

Waters, a high ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, is accused of using her influence in 2008 to help secure aid through the Troubled Asset Relief Program for struggling OneUnited Bank.

Waters' husband is a former board member at OneUnited and had between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of investments in the bank. That likely represented a conflict of interest, the committee has said.

Waters has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The committee's report found that Waters may have violated conflict of interest laws when she contacted then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to request that Treasury officials meet with representatives from a banking association. Ultimately, OneUnited was the only bank to be independently represented at the September 2008 meeting.

According to the report, Paulson said Waters did not mention OneUnited during her call, nor did she mention her financial interest in the bank.

"(T)he suggestion that I could gain personally from one phone call made to assist the National Bankers Association in getting a meeting with the Treasury Department is not credible," Waters said in a statement earlier this year.

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