Rep. Maxine Waters Denies Ethics Charges: It's a 'Complicated Case'

In 'GMA' exclusive, California rep claims she didn't do anything wrong.

ByABC News
August 20, 2010, 7:44 AM

Aug. 20, 2010— -- Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., today vehemently defended her record against charges of ethics violations and lashed out against the Office of Congressional Ethics for its "sloppy work."

In August, the House Ethics Committee charged the 10-term congresswoman with violating House rules in 2008. Waters is alleged to have used her office and position to save a bank in which she and her husband held shares.

The bank in question, Massachusetts-based OneUnited, received $12 million in taxpayer bailout funds last year, money that allegedly helped save Waters and her husband's investments in the bank.

"That's absolutely not true," Waters said in an exclusive "Good Morning America" interview today. "The decisions about who to fund were made by the FDIC and by the Treasury Department."

"Nobody did anything that interfered with their decision making," she said. "OneUnited was vetted properly. They met the criteria."

Waters today also blasted the OCE, which takes up complaints against House members from the public.

"They don't do good work, rather sloppy work," Waters said, adding that a lot of House members have complained about the OCE, which was established in 2008.

Waters' husband served on the board of the bank from 2004 to 2008. On financial disclosure forms, the couple reported owning $352,089.64 worth of stock at OneUnited in June 2008. By the end of September, the value of the stock had plummeted to $175,000 but what remained was saved thanks to a portion of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

In 2008, Waters -- chair of the Housing subcommittee of the House Financial Services committee -- requested a meeting with then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Neither of the two attended the meeting, but senior Treasury officials and members of the National Bankers Association, a trade organization that represents more than 100 minority-owned firms, were there.

Waters said she "arranged access" for the NBA at a time when there was no discussion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program that helped save many U.S. banks. And she denied that the meeting, which took place on Sept. 9, had any other motive.

"The meeting that I arranged with the Treasury was about the loss of preferred stock investments by the banks in the trade association when we took over and placed Fannie and Freddie in conservatorship," she said.

The ethics charges also center on an e-mail sent by Waters' grandson and chief of staff, Mikael Moore, to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., House Financial Services Committee chairman. The e-mail, dated Sept. 19, 2008, reads: "OU is in trouble."

Waters said the e-mail doesn't mean anything, and that the ethics office had not been able to verify "what he supposedly did."

"It's more staff chatter than anything else. It does not identify that he took any action," Waters said on "GMA." "We did not receive -- My husband did not receive any benefit from any of this."