Represent! | Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Maxine Waters expected to be cleared of ethics charges; committee focuses on chief of staff

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, was under investigation for alleged ethics violations.
U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, was under investigation for alleged ethics violations.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Listen to

Download this 0.0MB

After three years of investigation, the special investigator for the House Ethics Committee says there's no evidence Congresswoman Maxine Waters violated any House rule. The committee is expected to accept the investigator's recommendation to clear Waters. However, the Committee is not ready to let the L.A. Democrat's chief of staff off the hook.

Billy Martin, the outside counsel for the House Ethics Committee says he thinks Mikael Moore, the grandson and chief of staff to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, violated the standards and rules of the House of Representatives.  The conclusion is based on a pair of emails that he says show Moore tried to assist OneUnited Bank.  What was unclear was whether the emails were sent after his boss, Congresswoman Waters, told him to not help a bank in which her husband owned stock. 

The Ethics Committee says they believe when Waters called Treasury to ask for a meeting in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, she was doing it on behalf of all minority banks, not on behalf of OneUnited.  In fact, Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette told Moore his grandmother is known as fighter, saying "minority banks don’t have a better fighter than Maxine Waters in the country."

But Ethics Committee members questioned Moore's statement that he didn't know his grandfather's financial interest in OneUnited, saying it "strains the notion of credibility that you didn’t know."  They also suggested he ignored his employer by continuing to work on behalf of OneUnited Bank.  Maryland Democrat Donna Edwards says it was clear that Maxine Waters knew she had a conflict and directed Moore to stay out of it.  She told Moore he "ignored your employing member."

Moore says he thought the direction was to stand down for just one day.  The Ethics Committee members were skeptical. 

The Committee is considering a letter of reproval for Moore.

Melanie Sloan, Executive Director of the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, says CREW accepts the conclusions of Ethics Committee outside counsel Billy Martin exonerating Rep. Waters. But Sloan said she "urges the committee to immediately release Mr. Martin’s report explaining why the congresswoman’s actions on behalf of a bank in which her husband maintained a financial interest did not constitute a conflict."  Sloan added: "Given that the committee has exonerated Rep. Waters, it is strange that it would find Mr. Moore has brought discredit upon the House."

Correction: CREW was misidentified earlier as "Coalition for Responsibility and Ethics".