A House ethics committee has cleared California Congresswoman Maxine Waters of violating congressional rules and, according to some reports, the South Los Angeles Democrat can now seek the top post on the House Committee on Financial Services in the next Congress.

The tentative findings were announced Friday by the House Committee on Ethics, after a three-year probe into allegations that Waters approached Treasury Department secretary Henry Paulson in 2008 seeking a bailout of a bank, OneUnited, where her husband Sidney Williams was once on the board and also held $350 million in stock.

The formal investigation began in July 2009.
The decision was announced in a joint statement by the acting chairman and acting ranking member of the House Committee on Ethics.

“The committee has unanimously determined that the evidence does not establish, to the standard of clear and convincing evidence, that Rep. Waters violated House rules. It appears that Rep. Waters recognized and made efforts to avoid a conflict of interest with respect to OneUnited.

“However, the committee has also unanimously determined that Rep. Waters’ chief of staff, Mikael Moore, took certain actions on behalf of OneUnited when he knew, or should have known, of Rep. Waters’ personal financial interest, despite Rep. Waters’ instructions to avoid the conflict. Accordingly, the committee unanimously voted to issue a letter of reproval to Mr. Moore for his conduct.”

Waters, maintained that she was seeking relief for all minority-owned banks.

During the course of the investigation, committee staff attorneys leaked information in 2010 to Republican committee members, which forced Speaker John Boehner to create a new investigative