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How House Ethics Panel's Finding Could Help Waters Rise How House Ethics Panel's Finding Could Help Waters Rise

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How House Ethics Panel's Finding Could Help Waters Rise

Credit unions: Waters’s ticket to the top?  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

September 21, 2012

This article has been updated. It originally published at 10:41 a.m.

Now that Rep. Maxine Waters of California isn't facing disciplinary action as a result of a long-pending ethics probe, she could become the top Democrat on the powerful House Financial Services Committee next year.

The House Ethics Committee will vote on Friday morning to take no action against Waters as a result of its conflict-of-interest investigation into her actions on behalf of a minority-owned bank.

The committee is considering issuing a letter of reproval in the same matter against Mikael Moore, her grandson and chief of staff.

(RELATED: A Recent History of Ethics Probes)

A report drafted by outside counsel Billy Martin, findings of which were released on Friday, concluded that Waters backed away from her involvement in helping the bank--the board of which her husband had served and in which he owned stock--secure money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. However, although she instructed Moore to cease his work on the matter too, the report found that he did not.

Acting committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. said during Friday's hearing: "However, the outside counsel also has made perfectly clear to this committee that he believes that certain specific actions of Mikael Moore ... are in fact violations of the standards and rules of the House regarding conflicts of interest."

Goodlatte said that the committee is considering a draft of a letter of reproval for Moore, which is, in essence, a public statement that the panel believes his conduct violated certain rules and standards but did not warrant formal sanction or further action.

Waters, a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the most-senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee after retiring Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., is considered the favorite to take over the top slot.

She has served on Financial Services since she was elected in 1990, and is known as a fierce advocate for greater homeowner-relief efforts and a strident defender of financial-reform regulation. Frank said on Thursday, before the Ethics panel announced the hearing, that he anticipates Waters will succeed him, assuming the investigation blows over.

"If the Ethics Committee were to rule against her--which I would find very unlikely knowing the facts--then that would be a problem," Frank said. "But in absence of that, she's been a very responsible, effective legislator."

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