Waters to face ethics charges in House trial

WASHINGTON — California Democrat Maxine Waters faces a House trial this fall on three charges of ethical wrongdoing, setting the stage for a second election-season public airing of ethics problems for a longtime Democratic lawmaker.

The charges focus on whether Waters broke the rules in requesting federal help for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on the board of directors. She denied the charges Monday.

Sources familiar with the case said Waters is accused of violating:

* A rule that House members may not exert improper influence that results in a personal benefit.

* The government employees' ethics code, which prohibits granting or accepting special favors for the employee or family members that could be viewed as influencing official actions.

* A rule that members' conduct must reflect creditably on the House.

The sources were not authorized to be quoted by name on allegations not yet made public.

The House ethics committee's announcement comes just days after it outlined 13 charges against Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., including failing to disclose assets and income, delayed payment of federal taxes and improperly using a subsidized New York apartment for his campaign office.

Waters is a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, which handled the recent rewrite of legislation that regulates financial institutions and has strong protections for consumers.

The charges against Waters were filed July 28 by a four-member investigative panel, but not announced until Monday. An eight-member subcommittee of four Democrats and four Republicans will now conduct the Waters trial. The specifics of the allegations won't be made public until the panel holds its still-unscheduled organizational meeting.