Rep. Maxine Waters Refutes Ethics Charges

Waters today refuted charges brought against her by the House Ethics Committee.

ByABC News
August 13, 2010, 10:40 AM

Aug. 13, 2010 -- Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., today adamantly refuted charges brought against her by the House Ethics Committee.

"I have not violated any House rules," she said at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Waters was charged by the ethics panel with violating House rules in 2008. The charges stem from a meeting that Waters requested at the onset of the financial crisis in September 2008 with then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Waters and Paulson did not attend the meeting, but Treasury officials and members of the National Bankers Association (NBA), a trade organization representing over 100 minority-owned firms, did.

At the time of the Treasury meeting, she noted, the bailout program didn't exist yet. In addition, in regards to claims that she acted on behalf of the bank to save her family's investment, she said, "I would never take extraordinary steps to save that amount of money."

Waters lamented that no hearing has been scheduled yet and one might not take place for months. "Such a delay is unacceptable," she said. But she stated that she will not negotiate a deal in an effort to avoid one. "I won't go behind closed doors," she said. "I won't cut a deal." She also said the OCE report outlining the case against her "ignored or disregarded key pieces of exculpatory evidence."

The real issue, she said, should not be any possible conflict of interest actions on her part, but rather why she had to fight for the Treasury meeting in the first place. "This case is not just about me. This case is also about access," she said. "It's about access for those who are not heard by the decision makers, whether it's having their questions answered or their concerns addressed."

She added, "The question at this point should be why a trade association representing over 100 minority banks couldn't get a meeting at the height of the crisis."