Facing Ethics Charges, Rep. Waters Points Finger at Bush Administration

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) holds a press conference to defend herself on ethics charges, Friday, August 13, 2010. (FNC)

Embattled Rep. Maxine Waters on Friday blamed the Bush administration for her ethics problems — saying she had to intervene with the Treasury Department on behalf of minority-owned banks seeking federal bailout funds — including one tied to her husband — because the Treasury Department wouldn’t schedule its own appointments.

The California Democrat said in a Capitol Hill news conference — an event rarely held during a congressional recess — that she reached out to then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in late 2008 when his department failed to respond to the National Bank Association’s request for a meeting.

“The question at this point should not be why I called Secretary Paulson, but why I had to,” she said. “The question at this point should be why a trade association representing over 100 minority banks could not get a meeting at the height of the crisis.”

But the House ethics committee, which is investigating Waters for allegedly improperly using her position for personal gain, says in its report of charges that when the meeting was held, the officers of only one bank came — OneUnited.

That’s a problem for Waters since her husband, Sidney Williams, served as a member of OneUnited’s board of directors from January 2004 until April 2008, and was a stockholder in the bank.

OneUnited eventually got $12 million of the $50 million in bailout money it requested, enough to keep the bank afloat. The ethics panel says that kept Waters’ family stock
from becoming worthless, which the committee says shows that she personally benefited by using her office.

Waters said she wasn’t concerned about her husband’s stocks in the bank, which were worth about $350,000 at the time and which her husband still owns, if only because he can’t unload them.

“No one wants to buy them,” she said.

Waters said the media need to distinguish between making a call on behalf of one bank and making a call for an entire trade association. She added that even Paulson told the ethics committee that she never approached his office to speak about only one bank.

“When Paulson responded as a witness, he didn’t tell anybody I called him and asked for a meeting with OneUnited,” she said.

The 10-term representative from Los Angeles, insisted that she hasn’t done anything to violate House rules, and she “will not cut a deal.”

“I am teetering on a border here. What I am doing here is rare and unprecedented. I won’t go behind closed doors,” she said.

Waters pushed for a speedy trial, slamming the ethics committee for not setting a date for the hearing.

“Such a delay is unacceptable, considering that the investigation has dragged on for almost one year,” she said. “It does not provide due process.”

She added that neither her staff nor she “engaged in any improper behavior.”

“We did not influence anyone and we did not gain any benefit,” she said, reading from a written statement.

Waters, who holds a senior position on the Financial Services Committee, is the second prominent Democrat lawmaker facing ethics charges during a fiery election season. New York Rep. Charles Rangel of New York is facing 13 charges, including failing to disclose assets and income and delayed payment of federal taxes.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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Maxine Waters Charged With Ethics Violations..Corrupt.

By Susan Crabtree and Jordan Fabian – 08/09/10 08:25 PM ET

The House ethics committee on Monday outlined its charges against Rep. Maxine Waters, who is accused of helping a bank in which her husband owned stock secure federal bailout funds.

The committee charged the 10-term California Democrat with three counts of violating House rules and the federal ethics code in connection with her effort to arrange a 2008 meeting between Treasury officials and representatives with OneUnited bank.

The panel said Waters, who sits on the Financial Services Committee, broke a House rule requiring members to behave in a way that reflects “creditably” on the chamber. The committee said that by trying to assist OneUnited, she stood to benefit directly, because her husband owned a sizable amount of stock that would have been “worthless” if the bank failed.

The committee also accused Waters of violating the “spirit” of a House rule prohibiting lawmakers from using their positions for financial gain, as well as a government ethics statute banning the dispensing of “special favors.”

Waters has vehemently denied wrongdoing and said she would rather defend herself at an ethics trial than admit to “something I did not do.”

In a motion to dismiss the charges, which the ethics panel has denied, Waters’s attorney, Stanley M. Brand, said the congresswoman had done nothing wrong.

“This committee asserts that Rep. Waters improperly used her position to ‘preserve her husband’s investment in OneUnited,’ ” he wrote. “Yet, after its exhaustive investigation, it cannot identify a single active step taken by Rep. Waters in furtherance of that goal.”

The release of the formal charges comes at a bad time for Democrats, as Waters is the second party lawmaker heading to a public trial after the August recess — with time running out before the November midterms. In late July, the House ethics committee charged Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) with 13 counts of breaking House rules and federal ethics statutes.

Now, for the third straight week, as House lawmakers return from recess Tuesday to pass a $26 billion state aid package, Democratic leaders must watch their legislative agenda take a backseat to ethics scandals that Republicans already are using against them.

The ethics committee last week released a detailed report, by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), on Waters’s alleged wrongdoing in the OneUnited matter, but it did not outline the formal charges against her until Monday.

The panel’s investigative subcommittee, to buttress its case, released more information Monday about Waters’s involvement with OneUnited and a meeting she helped arrange between the National Bankers Association (NBA), a trade group of minority owned banks of which OneUnited is a member, and Treasury officials. Three of the four attendees NBA invited had ties to OneUnited, according to the OCE report.

OneUnited asked for $50 million in assistance to cover expected losses from the collapse of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but Treasury lacked the authority to grant the request, the ethics committee said.According to the 10-page Statement of Alleged Violation, Waters “did not instruct” her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, to stop assisting OneUnited after she told Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) she would halt her outreach.

In early September, Frank had warned Waters against getting involved because of her husband’s ties, telling her he would handle all contact on behalf of the bank, according to the report, even before he knew about her husband’s OneUnited stock. It is unclear when Frank learned about his holdings.

But Moore, who is Waters’s grandson, contacted OneUnited executives in late September, sending them publicly available draft legislation of a broad Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bill that would have permitted Treasury to buy certain assets of banks.

OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee and OneUnited senior counsel Robert Cooper exchanged several e-mails with Moore that September. In one, Cooper wrote: “Thank you for all your hard work!”


In October, the legislation authorizing the TARP contained language intended to apply to OneUnited, according to Frank. The bank eventually applied for TARP funds and received $12 million in December.

The ethics committee valued Williams’s stock holdings at over $350,000 at the end of 2007, between 4.6 and 15.2 percent of the couple’s net worth, according to Waters’s financial disclosure reports. By the end of September 2008, the stock’s value plummeted more than 50 percent, to $175,000, because of the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

“If OneUnited failed, [Waters’s] husband’s investment would have been worthless,” the subcommittee wrote.

The panel also reported that Cohee had previously hosted a fundraiser for Waters at his home and that he and his wife contributed to her campaign on “numerous occasions.”

The investigative subcommittee denied two motions filed by Waters: one to provide further clarification of the charges against her and another to dismiss the case.

The fact that her grandson handled the OneUnited matter for her raises even more ethics concerns, watchdogs argue. House rules bar members from hiring for their congressional offices nearly anyone with a family relationship, though not grandchildren.

“Congress has anti-nepotism rules, which sadly don’t rule out members from hiring their grandchildren,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Public Citizen’s Craig Holman said, “The family and the business relationship is just so close — it defies credibility that he would be acting on his own without her knowledge.”

Waters plans a vigorous defense this week. Her attorneys previously have argued that Moore acted without her knowledge and compared her office’s activities to those of Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), whom the committee exonerated last year.

Graves had invited a business partner of his wife’s to testify before a committee. The hearing covered the industry in which the witness and Graves’s wife were investors, and he failed to disclose the relationship at the hearing.

This post was originally posted at 12:33 p.m. and updated at 1:56 p.m. and 8:24 p.m.

Enemy To The United States Constitution And The Rule Of Law

Violator of the oath of office

Janet Napolitano Obstructs justice and violates her oath of office

Reporter: Sergio Avila
Web producer: Sheryl Kornman

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – An undocumented mother who admits to working in Tucson with a fake Social Security card will not be deported from the United States to Mexico. A deportation order for Marlen Moreno was to be executed on Sunday. But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stepped in on her behalf.

Part of the reason she did is that Moreno, 25, would be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act, if it passes.

Moreno was greeted with a huge ovation as she walked into Southside Presbyterian Church Friday, after she got word that Immigration and Customs agents would not be detaining her this weekend.

“Thank you so very much. I really appreciate that. I want to tell all the persons who are in my same situation to never give up,” she said in Spanish.

Moreno was talking about others who would be eligible for legal status in the United States under the Dream Act. A bill stalled in Congress would grant citizenship to people who were brought to the United States by their parents before the children turned 16.

Margo Cowan is Moreno’s attorney. “What we are doing is calling on the secretary to cancel removal proceedings for all Dream-eligible people like Marlen. There are thousands of them across the country that are under orders of removal,” Cowan said.

But not everyone is celebrating with Moreno. She is one of 11 people arrested for working at a Panda Express in Tucson with a fake Social Security card. She was initially charged with a felony for identity theft but pleaded guilty instead to a misdemeanor, criminal impersonation.

However, state Rep. Ted Vogt thinks she should have to pay the consequences.

“One of the sections of the Dream Act says you have to be of good moral character. While they have not specifically laid out what that means, using a Social Security number that’s not yours to work in the U.S. or to purchase things, that’s a crime,” Vogt said.

Cowan said Moreno deserves to stay in the United States “because she contributes to our community. It’s not against the law to work and that’s all she did is work. Her crime she ended up pleading guilty to is a misdemeanor offense and that’s about the equivalent of a traffic ticket.”

Cowan said Moreno’s husband is in the United States legally and her two children are American citizens. Moreno was brought to Arizona by her parents when she was 13, Cowan said.

“We just want opportunities to move forward and be successful,” Moreno said. “We don’t want families separated. I don’t understand why people are so egotistical and don’t see the positive side of things,” she said in Spanish.

Cowan said Nevada Sen. Harry Reid promised to bring the Dream Act up for a vote in this coming session of the U.S. Senate.

Vogt said the matter will be stalled until the border is secured.