Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is There Anything to the Case Against Maxine Waters, Really?

Is There Anything to the Case Against Maxine Waters, Really?
Teddy Partridge
Friday November 26, 2010

Today’s Associated Press via MSNBC “state of play” article about the House Ethics Committee investigation yields some items new to me.

First, today’s news: the aide who wrote an email to the Treasury Department never mentioned OneUnited, the bank where Congresswoman Waters’ husband served on the board of directors and owned stock.

"The recently discovered e-mail had been sent by Moore on Sept. 28, 2008, to staff aides for the committee who were writing legislation that became the Bush administration’s controversial $700 billion TARP — Troubled Asset Relief Program — bailout for banks, insurance companies, auto companies and other financial institutions

The e-mail never mentioned OneUnited.

Moore’s memo said the congresswoman was “under the explicit impression” that provisions affecting small and minority-owned banks were still in the bailout bill."

If your staff’s communications omit mention of the bank you supposedly want “saved” how can you be charged with trying to save the bank?

Second, Chairman Barney Frank of the House Financial Services Committee knew nothing about Maxine Waters’ supposed involvement in this issue, and he wrote the legislation that affected banks in OneUnited’s class:

"Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the Financial Services Committee, said in an interview that he inserted the provision for minority banks to protect OneUnited — because it is based in his state.

But he said of Waters, 'I did not know she was watching' the drafting of the section. 'We never discussed it,' he said. 'I heard from people in Massachusetts.'"

If the guy who’s writing the bill doesn’t know you’re watching it, and never discussed it with you, how can you be held responsible for unethically influencing the legislative outcome?

Finally, in the “who benefits? no one!” class of information about Maxine Waters’ supposed ethical compromise:

"Another difficulty in proving the violations: the provision by itself did not qualify any bank for bailout money.

All banks applying for bailout funds had to meet a number of Treasury thresholds to get the assistance. The Fannie-Freddie section merely instructed Treasury not to overlook banks that lost money due to their investments in the mortgage companies."

If the provision you didn’t seek by having no communication with the author of the bill got into the bill but didn’t qualify ANY bank for bailout money, how can you be accused of steering bailout money to that bank because your husband sat on its board and owned stock?

This has probably gone on long enough. Maxine Waters proved recently that this investigation won’t quiet her inquiries into banks’ behavior. The gossamer nature of the charges took a big hit today with her staffer’s email’s release. The repeated facts of the case (the bill’s author was unaware of Waters’ interest and the provision didn’t qualify ANY bank for bailout fundage) make this seem more and more like a hunt against an conveniently outspoken target.

It’s time for this “ethical process” to draw to a close. Maxine Waters did nothing wrong except Congressing While Black. Call off the dogs, Porter Goss. Goss has bigger things to attend to nowadays, and this ethics job is clearly way over his head.

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