Ethics watchdog wants Waters to give up chairmanship

A nonpartisan ethics watchdog group on Monday called on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to relinquish her position as chairwoman of the housing and community opportunity subcommittee. 

The House ethics committee on Monday said it intends to bring ethics charges against Waters for allegedly using her position to arrange a meeting between Treasury Department officials and the National Bankers Association regarding OneUnited Bank. At the time, Waters' husband was a significant shareholder in the bank and had formerly served on its board of directors. 

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said Waters had crossed the line. 

“No matter their political party, race or gender, lawmakers who abuse their offices for personal enrichment must be held accountable," CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "Now that the Ethics Committee has found a substantial reason to believe Congresswoman Waters violated House rules, she should step down as Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity immediately. This isn’t the first time that Congresswoman Waters has been accused of ethics violations, but it should be the last."

Waters strongly denied the charges on Monday. In a lengthy statement, she said that she has "not violated any House rules" and "will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing."

The lawmaker also said she has spent her career in Congress trying to help minority-owned businesses, not to personally benefit from her position. 

"The record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone. Additionally, the [Office of Congressional Ethics] acknowledges that I have fully disclosed my assets as required by House rules, even going above and beyond the requirements by disclosing my assets at several Financial Services Committee hearings. In sum, the case against me has no merit."