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Internet posts claiming that U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is facing corruption charges neglects to tell readers the incident is seven years old and that the charges were dropped.
"California Democrat Maxine Waters charged on 3 counts," read the headline on an Oct. 6, 2017, post on NewsOfTrump.com. The headline added a hallmark of fake news sites looking to engage an audience, asking readers, "Do you support this?"
The NewsOfTrump.com post didn’t mention the charges in the headline, but specified in the text that she violated House rules by arranging a 2008 "meeting between the Treasury Department and representatives of OneUnited bank — where her husband was a notable shareholder."
The post criticized Waters for being corrupt and said OneUnited directly benefitted from her actions.
"As a member of the House Financial Committee, she was able to directly contact then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to speak with him about meeting with minority-owned banks," the post read. "Through her efforts, OneUnited bank was able to obtain $12 million in federal bailout funding to help cover expected losses from the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
These posts describe real events, when the House ethics committee charged Waters with breaking three rules by allegedly trying to assist OneUnited, in which her husband did hold a sizeable share of stock.
But the flap over the OneUnited meeting happened in 2010.
Reports surfaced in 2009 that Waters had allegedly helped OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee secure a meeting to ask for $50 million in bailout funds to recover from the Great Recession, triggering a House ethics investigation. (The bank did get $12 million.)
In August 2010, the panel recommended three charges against Waters for violating ethics rules that essentially are supposed to keep members of Congress from making the House look bad. Her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, also was charged.
But the posts implied or outright said that Waters is currently facing charges, making it seem as if the House had only now acted on the 2008 meeting.
They also don’t mention that the ethics charges against Waters were dropped in 2012.
In contentious action between Republican and Democratic members of the committee, a lawyer hired specifically to review the case found that Waters believed she had been acting in the interest of all minority-owned banks, not just OneUnited. She had called for a meeting to help those banks, and ended her involvement when she learned OneUnited was part of the group.
Moore was given a letter of reproval for the incident, for not stopping Waters’ involvement once it was clear OneUnited was one of the banks asking for help.
Waters is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, which no doubt was what has earned her the attention of fake news purveyors, who typically zero in on political flashpoints. She recently earned criticism for saying she wanted to "take Trump out" and called him "the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the president."
Although based on things that really happened, the fake news posts distort the timeline and leave out the final result of the House ethics committee investigation. Someone reading it would be misinformed of the events.
We rate this statement Mostly False.
NewsOfTrump.com, "California Democrat Maxine Waters Charged on 3 Counts. Do You Support This?..," Oct. 6, 2017
Los Angeles Times, "Maxine Waters accused of three ethics violations," Aug. 10, 2010
The Hill, "Rep. Waters charged on three counts," Aug. 10, 2010
The Hill, "Bank at center of Waters controversy got $12 million bailout despite reviews," Sept. 15, 2010
Washington Post, "California Rep. Waters cleared of ethics charges," Sept. 21, 2012
Politico, "House Ethics Committee will not charge Rep. Maxine Waters with any violations," Sept. 21, 2012
Politico, "Waters ethics case debacle detailed," Sept. 25, 2012
Fox News, "Rep. Maxine Waters says she wants to 'take out' Trump," Oct. 22, 2017
Newsweek, "Trump has no respect for women and should be impeached, Maxine Waters said," Oct. 29, 2017
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