Report: Waters to be cleared in ethics probe
posted at 10:01 am on September 21, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
It’s taken three years and a couple of false starts, but the House Ethics Committee will finally close the books on Maxine Waters. The California Democrat came under fire for allegedly influencing the federal government to favor a bank in which her husband owned a significant stake, and who came within days of having an ethics trial two years ago. Roll Call now says that Waters will get let off the hook, but that her chief of staff — who is also Waters’ grandson — will end up on the hook instead:
Rep. Maxine Waters on Friday is expected to be cleared of charges in a Congressional ethics investigation that has spanned three years. …
According to a source familiar with the situation, however, Waters’ staff would not be entirely off the hook: Her chief of staff and grandson, Mikael Moore, is likely to be held accountable for breaching House codes of conduct.
The source told Roll Call that when the House Ethics Committee meets in a rare public hearing at 9:15 a.m. Friday, Moore will likely be held accountable for seeking to leverage Waters’ influence as a member of the Financial Services panel to aid OneUnited Bank, in which Waters’ husband has a stake.
Ms. Waters and her husband have both held financial stakes in the bank. Until recently, her husband was a director. At the same time, Ms. Waters has publicly boosted OneUnited’s executives and criticized its government regulators during congressional hearings. Last fall, she helped secure the bank a meeting with Treasury officials.
Her involvement isn’t new. Ms. Waters has detailed her financial ties in a series of federal disclosure forms and has been vocal in public in support of the bank. Those ties, however, have received little public attention. Nor is it well known how the influential lawmaker has over the years acted to support the bank and its executives.
Such potential conflicts of interest are more serious as the banking system’s crisis has led the government to take an increasingly active role in overseeing financial institutions, including OneUnited. The financial-services committee on which Ms. Waters sits oversees banking issues, and the lawmaker is a potential future chairman.
And from the LA Times in the same week:
Rep. Maxine Waters, one of Los Angeles’ most enduring liberal politicians, has come under scrutiny because of bailout funds that went to a bank in which her husband had owned stock and served on the board.
Waters was a senior member of the congressional committee dealing with the financial crisis when OneUnited Bank — one of the nation’s largest minority-owned institutions — received $12 million in bailout funds.
Her husband, Sidney Williams, served on the bank board until early last year and held at least $500,000 in investments in the bank in 2007, the most recent year for which public financial disclosure statements are available.
A month before Congress enacted the bailout program, Waters helped set up a meeting between the chief executive of the bank, representatives of other financial institutions and Treasury officials.
“When a member of the financial services committee calls, you pay special attention,” said Jeb Mason, who was a high-ranking Treasury official last fall.
Two years ago almost to the day, the Washington Post said it was even worse than first reported:
From the moment Boston-based OneUnited Bank began seeking a federal bailout in the summer of 2008, it received special treatment that went beyond what the Treasury Department or the bank and its political supporters have previously disclosed.
Congress adjusted the law and regulators broke with customary practices, despite an explicit internal warning that the bank was in financial trouble. Among other exceptions, the bank was allowed to count as part of its capital $12 million in federal bailout money – before the aid arrived.
OneUnited was the only bank to receive all of these considerations among the 707 recipients of money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, according to documents and interviews.
Are we to believe that the grandson of the woman on the committee was responsible for all of that preferential treatment? Really?
Here’s the truly awesome news from Roll Call this morning:
The verdict would clear the way for the California Democrat to pursue the title of top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee as ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) prepares to retire at the end of this Congress.
The culture of corruption continues apace. It’s yet another good reason to ensure that Democrats don’t take control of the House — because they’d make Waters the chair of that committee.