“An Ethics Nightmare”: Walls Closing in on Maxine Waters

Yesterday Hotair reported potential “bombshell” evidence on the Maxine Waters (D-CA) ethics trial.  Waters is under investigation for corruption involving her efforts to funnel TARP money to the bank OneUnited.  Her husband, Sidney Williams, owns a “substantial interest” in the bank.  The House Ethics Committee has reportedly postponed Waters’s hearing for reasons that are not clear.  However, over the weekend the New York Times reported that new evidence in the form of emails between Waters’s chief-of-staff and the chairman of the House Financial Services Commission forced the Ethics panel to postpone the trial in order to contemplate more serious allegations:

WASHINGTON — A newly discovered exchange of e-mails led the House ethics committee on Friday to delay its trial of Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat accused of helping steer bailout money to a bank in which her husband owned shares.

The e-mails are between Mikael Moore, Ms. Waters’s chief of staff, and members of the House Financial Services Committee, on which Ms. Waters serves. The e-mails show that Mr. Moore was actively engaged in discussing with committee members details of a bank bailout bill apparently after Ms. Waters agreed to refrain from advocating on the bank’s behalf. The bailout bill had provisions that ultimately benefited OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which her husband, Sidney Williams, owned about $350,000 in shares.

Ms. Waters has consistently denied wrongdoing, and she said the ethics committee’s delay further vindicated her.

“The committee’s decision to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred,” Ms. Waters said in a written statement.

The subcommittee’s original report found that in early September 2008, Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts and the committee’s chairman, told Ms. Waters not to get involved with any issues involving OneUnited and that Ms. Waters agreed to refrain from advocating on the bank’s behalf. The case against Ms. Waters hinged largely on a series of e-mails between Mr. Moore and OneUnited, which may suggest that Ms. Waters’s office continued to lobby on behalf of the bank, although Mr. Moore has argued that he was primarily on the receiving end of the messages.

A person directly involved in the investigation said the new e-mails could show that members of her staff continued to work on the bank’s behalf.

“It may directly contradict a bit of Maxine’s story, if not the actual facts, the way she has told it,” said the person, who did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the trial.

OneUnited was indeed found to have received preferential treatment from TARP.  The bank was allowed to count TARP money in its assets before receiving the actual funds.  From Hotair:

The preferential treatment the bank received — unique among over 700 applicants for TARP money — seems oddly coincidental to Waters’ status and the newly exposed machinations of Moore on her behalf.

It is difficult to imagine why this small, minority owned bank would receive such favoritism if not incited by someone with a vested interest in OneUnited’s success.  A vested interest of $350,000 certainly might raised questions, especially if the person with such an investment is the husband of a U.S. congresswoman…

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