SEPTEMBER 21, 2012
Surprise, surprise; the House Ethics Committee has cleared Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a distinguished member of Judicial Watch’s Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians list, for steering millions of federal bailout dollars to her husband’s failing bank.
The famously remiss committee, which is charged with investigating and punishing corrupt lawmakers, found that Waters committed no wrongdoing when she steered $12 million to a Massachusetts bank in which she and her board member husband held shares. The bank, OneUnited, subsequently got shut down by the government and taxpayers got stiffed for the millions. Judicial Watch investigated the scandal and obtained documents from the U.S. Treasury related to the controversial bailout.
Waters, a Democrat who represents some of Los Angeles’ poorest inner city neighborhoods, has denied any wrongdoing and says she allocated the money as part of her longtime work to promote opportunity for minority-owned businesses and lending in underserved communities. At least that’s what her hometown newspaper says. Keep in mind that the now-defunct bank was located thousands of miles away from the south Los Angeles neighborhood she represents in Congress.
The ethics committee evidently bought her story. It launched an investigation a few years ago and announced today that the veteran lawmaker is off the hook. That means she can regain her position as a senior member (or chairwoman if Democrats win control of the U.S. House of Representatives) of the House Financial Services Committee. It will be as if nothing ever happened, though Waters’ chief of staff (her grandson) got a slap on the hand for violating House standards of conduct to help OneUnited.
Even more laughable than the ethic panel’s conclusion is how it was reached. The committee hired an “independent” legal advisor who found that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove violations by a clear and convincing standard. The independent probe was conducted by a high-profile D.C. criminal defense lawyer (Billy Martin) well known for representing professional athletes, including the Atlanta quarterback indicted for running a dogfighting ring.
Waters may have dodged a bullet in this case, but this is hardly the first scandal to rock her storied political career. She has been crowned among the nation’s most corrupt members of Congress by a reputable ethics watchdog for awarding federal contracts to businesses owned by or connected to members of her family, including her husband and children.
In the 1980s Waters accused the CIA of selling crack cocaine to blacks in her south central Los Angeles district to raise millions of dollars to support clandestine operations in Latin America, including a guerrilla army. During the infamous 1992 Los Angeles riots she repeatedly excused the violent behavior that destroyed the areas she represents in the House. She dismissed the severe beating of a white truck driver by saying the anger in her district was righteous. She also excused looters who stole form stores by saying they were simply mothers capitalizing on an opportunity to take some milk, bread and shoes.
In the 1990s Waters convinced Cuba’s communist dictator to harbor cop-murdering Black Panther fugitive Joanne Chesimard, who is also known by her Black Panther name of Assata Shakur. In 1979 Chesimard killed a New Jersey State trooper and a jury convicted her of murder and sentenced her to life in prison. In a daring breakout with the help of fellow cult members, Chesimard escaped from prison and fled to Cuba. U.S. lawmakers insisted she be extradited but Waters always stood by her side, even likening her to civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
More recently, Waters threatened to nationalize the oil industry and she was embroiled in a fundraising scandal for skirting federal election rules with a shady gimmick that allows unlimited donations from certain contributors. Instead of raising most of her campaign funds from individuals or political action committees, Waters sells her endorsement to other politicians and political causes for as much as $45,000 a pop.
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