Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rep. Maxine Waters Likely Faces Ethics Trial Of Her Own

Hers is a case that's largely gone under the radar, particularly with the glare of malfeasance squarely on Democrat Charles Rangel from New York. However, it appears that Rep. Maxine Waters, a 10-term California Democrat, is going to face the ethics trial herself for charges stemming from improper communications with government officials.

Ms. Waters, at the time the investigation by the House ethics panel began last fall, was accused of intervening on behalf of OneUnited, a Boston-based bank. The Times reported last year that Ms. Waters called Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in 2008, as the economy was in a free fall, to ask him to host a special meeting with executives from black-owned banks.

As a key House player on the Financial Services Committee, Ms. Waters often called Mr. Paulson. He agreed to arrange the requested meeting, The New York Times reported last year.

What Mr. Paulson did not know at the time was that Ms. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, owned stock in and had served on the board of OneUnited, whose chief executive turned the Treasury headquarters meeting into a special appeal for bailout assistance. The executive of the institution, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks, asked for $50 million in federal aid, The Times reported.
This is the kind of self-interest that raised all kinds of red flags for the Office of Congressional Ethics, which referred the situation to the House Ethics Panel, which launched the investigation.

Waters is fighting the matter, but charges should be forthcoming this week.

And again, one should expect to hear that Democrats are more than willing to offer a slap on the wrist for Waters' malfeasance. After all, if they were merely willing to recommend the minimum sanction - a reprimand - to Rangel for failing to report income for more than a decade and multiple ethics and legal violations, the self-dealing that appears involved here (assisting a bank with which there are close relations) would not garner more.

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