Another Black Caucus Member Under Scrutiny

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Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has chosen to face an ethics trial rather than accept charges levied by the House ethics subcommittee.

According to the L.A. Times, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is confronting Waters over allegations that she helped OneUnited Bank, a Massachusetts-based, minority-owned bank in which her husband owned stock and once served as a board member, receive $12 million in bailout funds.

Waters is purported to have arranged a meeting between the Black-owned bank officials and Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson in 2008. At the time, Paulson did not know Waters’ husband, Sidney Williams, had a relationship with the bank.

Formal charges are expected to be announced next week according to the New York Times. The details have not been revealed because the proceedings remain confidential.

Waters is the second prominent Black member of Congress to be targeted by the ethics committee. New York Rep. Charlie Rangel (D.), is to face a similar House trial on 13 different allegations. Rangel and Waters are prominent members of the House and the Congressional Black Caucus. Scrutiny by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent congressional body, has Black caucus members wondering if it is being targeted.

Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) introduced legislation that would limit the authority of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). In an e-mail posted to the National Legal and Policy Center’s website, Fudge’s communication director Belinda Prinz defended Fudge’s stand.

"Rep. Fudge says OCE investigations which find no credible allegations of misconduct have unjustly damaged the reputation of lawmakers, and that new rules will make the process fairer,” Prinz wrote.