After an investigation that lasted two years, the House Ethics Committee has cleared Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of charges that she tried to influence regulators when a bank that her husband owns stock in went looking for a federal bailout in 2008.
Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte, acting chairman of the ethics panel, announced the decision this morning.
According to The Associated Press, while Waters was cleared, the committee said that "her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, did take actions in Congress in an attempt to help the bank and violated standards of conduct. Moore likely will receive a letter admonishing him for his conduct. but will not face more severe punishment, such as a reprimand, by the full House."
Moore has said he did not violate House rules. Waters, a Californian, also vigorously defended her actions, as we reported back in 2010.
The AP adds that "Goodlatte said the committee was convinced that when Waters asked for a meeting at the Treasury Department to discuss financial help for minority banks, she believed she did so on behalf of all minority banks — not just OneUnited, where her husband owns stock. Goodlatte said the committee agreed with Waters' assertion."
USA Today's On Politics blog notes that the committee's investigation itself was "marred by scandal. ... The Waters case was headed for the equivalent of an 'ethics trial' in November 2010, but the public hearing was canceled when the committee discovered that evidence in the case had been mishandled by staff. The committee suspended two attorneys and hired an independent investigator to review its own handling of the Waters case."