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House ethics panel unanimous in dropping Waters probe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives' ethics panel said on Tuesday it unanimously decided to dropped a conflict of interest case against Democratic Representative Maxine Waters saying the evidence failed to support allegations that she improperly aided a bank in which her husband was a shareholder.

In a formal statement, the panel said Waters made efforts to avoid a conflict of interest with OneUnited Bank of Boston, which received a $12 million federal bailout, when she sought help for minority own banks during the 2008 financial crisis.

Waters is a high-ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee and could become chairman if Democrats win control of the House in November.

The ethics panel signaled its intentions at a public hearing on Friday. Tuesday's statement said the panel voted 10-0 to drop the allegations against Waters.

The panel also said it decided to issue a letter of reproval against Waters' chief of staff and grandson, Mikael Moore. The panel said it concluded that he took certain actions of behalf of OneUnited despite instructions by Waters to avoid the conflict of interest. The move is short of a formal reprimand under House rules.

(Reporting By Donna Smith; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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