House Ethics Committee Releases Details on Charges Against Waters
Today, the House Ethics Committee released a number of documents related to the three charges against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), accused of working to further a Treasury bailout for a bank with ties to her husband. Here, Megan Carpentier at Talking Points Memo summarizes the incident in question:
According to the Ethics Committee, around September 7, 2008 — the date that the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee contacted Waters to ask for her help in setting up a meeting with officials at the Department of Treasury regarding the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That takeover resulted in total losses to all Fannie and Freddie stockholders, including OneUnited [a bank on whose board Waters' husband used to sit, and a bank he remained invested in].
Waters called the Treasury Department on September 8, 2008 and arranged the meeting with Treasury for the National Bankers Association, a trade organization for minority- and women-owned banks of which OneUnited was a member. Though the AU investigation and Ethics Committee disagree whether anyone but OneUnited officials were in attendance, a group representing NBA and including executives from OneUnited met with Treasury Department officials on September 9, 2008 to discuss the impact of the Fannie and Freddie takeover on minority-owned banks. She then directed her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, to follow up on the results of the meeting.
At the same time, the Ethics Committee says, Waters had her chief of staff — Moore, her grandson — email Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the head of the House Financial Services Committee, to say the bank was in trouble. Frank advised Waters and her office to stay out of it because of her conflicts of interest. But she allegedly continued to intervene on the bank’s behalf. The bank ultimately received $12 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds. The Ethics Committee argues Waters’ husband would have lost money were it not for that bailout.
The Ethics Committee charges that Waters violated three rules: dispensing a favor, not acting “in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House” and using her influence for personal benefit. Waters denies wrongdoing and has chosen to fight the charges.