Fact Check

Is Rep. Maxine Waters Facing Ethics Violations Charges?

Disreputable web sites and YouTube channels tried to turn a 2010 story into a current "scandal" about the Democratic lawmaker.

Published Oct. 4, 2018

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Image Via a katz / Shutterstock.com
Rep. Maxine Waters is facing ethics violations charges for improperly setting up a meeting between officials from the Treasury and OneUnited bank.

For years, bottom-feeding YouTube channels and blogs have seemingly attempted to gin up anger against Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters of California, treating a 2010 dispute as if it were current news.

Specifically, these sites have seized on reports from August 2010 that Waters was facing ethics charges in connection with a meeting held two years earlier between officials from OneUnited Bank and U.S. Treasury officials. At the time of the meeting, Waters' husband held stock in OneUnited and had been on its board of directors.

A House ethics panel determined in September 2012 that Waters did not violate any ethics rules. But that has not stopped various web sites from both ignoring that fact and passing the charges off as recent. In one case, a site reprinted (with only a link and no direct attribution) a story covering the dispute with a 2017 publication date:

Another similarly false account gained sufficient currency that the Associated Press published their own report in February 2018 debunking it.

Rep. Maxine Waters is not currently facing corruption charges in Congress, despite the false claim of a story detailing allegations she was cleared of eight years ago.

The headline on an item appearing on the newsoftrump site and other right-wing websites says the House Ethics Committee charged the California democrat with three counts of corruption. It detailed charges that she improperly set up a meeting in 2008 on behalf of executives at a bank her husband invested in.

A House ethics panel cleared Waters of the charges in 2012 after an investigation lasting more than three years.

Several dubious YouTube channels have also continued to spread the outdated story as recently as early 2018:

Waters, who has represented California's 43rd congressional district since 2013, was targeted by several pieces of junk news seemingly as soon as she emerged as a vocal critic of President Donald Trump and his administration.


Crabtree, Susan and Jordan Fabian.   "Rep. Waters Charged on Three Counts."     The Hill.   10 August 2010.

Associated Press.   "California Rep. Waters Not Facing Corruption Charges."     14 February 2018.

Heiderman, Rosalind S.   "California Rep. Waters Cleared of Ethics Charges."     The Washington Post.   21 September 2012.

Arturo Garcia is a former writer for Snopes.

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