LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, was cleared of wrongdoing today following a two-year House Ethics Committee probe into allegations that she tried to help out a bank in which her husband was an investor.

The development appeared to clear the way for the 74-year-old Waters to become the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, replacing retiring Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Waters has been accused of improperly helping a bank linked to her husband. She denied wrongdoing, saying her efforts were in keeping with her longtime work to promote opportunity for minority-owned businesses and lending in underserved communities.

The ethics committee hired prominent Washington lawyer Billy Martin to investigate the charges and recommend a course of action.

According to findings released today, Martin determined that Waters believed she was intervening on behalf of all minority-owned banks-and not directly on behalf of OneUnited Bank of Boston, in which her husband held stock. He concluded that there was no evidence that she knowingly violated House rules.

Martin added that when she learned that OneUnited, on whose board her husband once sat, was seeking federal bailout funds, Waters ended her involvement on behalf of the institution, which ultimately received $12 million through the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Waters has held elective office in Sacramento or Washington for more than three decades. She has been anxious to put the ethic case behind her as she seeks to succeed the retiring Frank.