SEPTEMBER 17, 2009
A senior member of the congressional committee handling the financial crisis is being investigated for steering federal bailout funds to a questionable bank because she and her board member husband had deep financial ties to it.
Months after the media exposed the shady deal involving prominent California Democrat Maxine Waters, the House Ethics Committee is finally investigating the veteran lawmaker’s controversial intervention on behalf of her husband’s failing Massachusetts bank. As a result, the financial institution (OneUnited) received $12 million in federal bailout funds.
Waters pressured Treasury officials to bail out the minority-owned bank whose executives have donated heavily to her political campaigns. At the time she and her husband, Sidney Williams, held big financial stakes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in OneUnited and her husband had just been the bank’s director and still served on its board.
The conflict was so blatant that even the scandal-plagued chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, her good buddy Barney Frank, urged Waters to “stay out of it,” assuring her that he would see to it that her precious bank got bailout money. Earlier this year Judicial Watch uncovered documents that Congress, especially Frank, for years ignored corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so it’s not surprising that he took no action when Waters ignored his suggestion.
The OneUnited case was hardly the first time that Waters, California’s most influential black lawmaker, used her political clout to benefit her family financially. In 2004 Waters’ hometown newspaper reported that her relatives made more than $1 million by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that the well-connected and powerful congresswoman had helped.
Waters has also made international headlines for her frequent trips to communist Cuba to visit her convicted cop-assassin friend, Joanne Chesimard, who is also known by her Black Panther name of Assata Shakur. Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted by a jury of the 1979 murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. With the help of fellow cult members, she escaped from jail and fled to Cuba.
Outraged U.S. lawmakers insisted she be extradited but Waters always stood by her side, likening the cop-assassin to civil rights leader Martin Luther King. In fact, she wrote Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro a letter to ensure that she was not part of the group of U.S. legislators who voted for a resolution to extradite the cop murderer. Waters told Castro that she opposed extradition because Chesimard was “politically persecuted” in the U.S. and simply seeking political asylum in Havana, where she still lives.
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