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Entries in Maxine Waters (9)

Friday
Sep212012

Maxine Waters Did Not Violate House Rules, Ethics Investigation Finds

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House Ethics committee announced Friday that Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., did not violate House rules after a three-year investigation examining her office’s assistance to a bank tied to her husband during the depths of the financial crisis. But a special investigator says her chief of staff, who is also her grandson, may have acted improperly in violation of House rules.

Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, was accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure the TARP funds for the struggling bank. Throughout the drawn-out process, she steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

The allegations stem from a meeting that Waters’ chief of staff requested with then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson at the start of the financial crisis in September 2008. Waters and Paulson did not attend the meeting, but senior Treasury officials and members of the National Bankers Association (NBA), a trade organization representing over 100 minority-owned firms, did. An ethics report found that at that meeting and in follow-up conversations “the discussion centered on a single bank -- OneUnited,” where Waters’ husband was a board member from 2004 to 2008.

Waters and her husband sat behind their grandson, Mikael Moore, at the hearing, although neither spoke before the committee.

Former special prosecutor Billy Martin said his investigation “found no evidence in the record to support that [Waters'] phone call to arrange the meeting violated any House rule or any other standard of conduct.”

Martin, who was hired as outside council to examine whether the committee should empanel an investigative subcommittee, questioned the credibility of Moore’s testimony. He said evidence proved that once Waters learned of OneUnited’s request for special treatment, she told Moore not to continue to work the matter. Still, he said that Moore disobeyed that order and continued to intervene on behalf of the bank.

Martin recommended that Moore receive a letter of reproval that he brought discredit to the House, although the committee must still rule on those recommendations.

Today, Moore continued to attempt to defend himself against any accusations of intentional wrongdoing, but expressed remorse for the entire ordeal.

“My heavy heart really is around the idea that whether it’s a letter of reproval [sic] or someone just saying that the idea that I knowingly and intentionally used the congresswoman’s office for personal gain, that I disrespected the House, is a very difficult pill to swallow,” Moore said. “This has been a tough process for me and for the congresswoman, for her office, for her constituents. I am glad, excited, encouraged that it’s coming to an end.”

On financial disclosure forms, Waters and her husband reported owning $352,089.64 worth of stock at OneUnited in June 2008. By the end of September, the value of the stock had plummeted to $175,000, but what remained was salvaged thanks to a portion of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout. OneUnited received $12 million in TARP funds.

Moore has denied knowing that his grandfather was invested in the bank, although Martin said there were “inconsistencies” with his testimony. Martin said he “found Mr. Moore’s denial incredible and doubted the credibility of his testimony in general.”

Waters, an 11-term lawmaker, was set to have a public trial Nov. 29, 2010, but it was cancelled after she raised allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights. Last June, the committee told Waters that the only due process she is entitled to under House and committee rules “is notice and the opportunity to be heard,” and it informed her that the Sixth Amendment does not apply to committee proceedings. The committee previously dismissed Waters’ charge that “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks may have biased the investigation” into the matter.

Waters is running for a 12th term in what ABC News rates as a solid Democratic district -- part of Los Angeles and its environs -- in a rematch against her primary opponent, fellow Democrat Bob Flores, after defeating him 65 to 34 last June. She currently represents the 35th congressional district, but redistricting placed her in California’s newly drawn 43rd district.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun072012

Maxine Waters Continues to Question Misconduct by Ethics Committee

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Within 24 hours of the House Ethics Committee’s dismissal of her assertions that her constitutional rights were violated, Rep. Maxine Waters began to fight back.

Waters is accused of steering $12 million in TARP funds to a minority-owned bank with ties to her husband in 2008. The ethics committee’s trial was to begin in November 2010 but was delayed after the California Democrat claimed her rights -- racial insensitivity, leaked documents, too much time until trial -- had been violated.

On Thursday, Waters demanded that the committee release a report issued by Billy Martin, the special counsel hired to investigate allegations of staff misconduct at the committee.

“The Committee must immediately release Mr. Martin’s report, which forms the basis of their determination to dismiss Representative Waters’ due process concerns,” Waters, D-Calif., writes in a letter signed by 68 of her Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives. “Without the public, the Congress and Representative Waters being able to review the findings included in this report, the integrity of the Committee’s process will further be called into question.”

The committee ultimately hired Martin, an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney, as an outside counsel to investigate Waters’ allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights. His past clients include the parents of Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky’s mother, former Sen. Larry Craig and NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

Waters also notes that releasing the report is necessary to restore public confidence in the ethics committee and to afford Waters the opportunity to respond. She complains that despite the committee’s concession that a former staff member invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and that staff made “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks” about the congresswoman, the committee still dismissed her allegations that her constitutional rights had been violated.

“Considering that it was the conduct of the Committee that necessitated Mr. Martin’s investigation in the first place, which came at the cost of up to $800,000 to the U.S. taxpayer, we feel that it is absolutely essential that the Committee move forward with absolute transparency and release Mr. Martin’s report,” she writes.

A senior aide to Waters revealed that the California Democrat personally collected each signature over the past 24 hours. So far the ethics committee has not commented on her letter.

Wednesday the panel released its letter to Waters, paving the way for the full ethics investigation to continue. Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, still stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure the TARP funds for the struggling bank. She has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun062012

Maxine Waters Ethics Probe Continues

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The ethics investigation of Maxine Waters, the California representative accused of steering $12 million in TARP funds to a minority-owned bank with ties to her husband, is set to resume.

Wednesday the House Committee on Ethics released a letter to Waters, dismissing the embattled Democrat’s allegations that her constitutional rights had been violated.

Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, still stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure the TARP funds for the struggling bank. She has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing.

After Waters raised allegations during the 111th Congress that her constitutional rights -- length of the investigation, racially insensitive remarks, leaking of confidential documents -- were violated during the committee’s first investigation, the House Ethics Committee cancelled a public trial for Waters that had been set for Nov. 29, 2010.

The committee ultimately hired Dorsey & Whitney attorney Billy Martin, whose past clients include the parents of Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky’s mother, Sen. Larry Craig and NFL quarterback Michael Vick, as an outside counsel to investigate of Waters’ allegations regarding the deprivation of her due process rights.

In the letter released Wednesday, Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and John Yarmuth, D-Ky., the respective acting chairman and ranking member working on the matter after five Republicans and the top Democrat on the panel withdrew themselves from the case, told Waters that the only due process she is entitled to under House and committee rules “is notice and the opportunity to be heard.”

The committee dismissed the charge that “inappropriate and/or racially insensitive remarks may have biased the investigation” into the matter. The committee says the investigation “revealed some evidence of insensitive remarks by a former committee staff member,” but outside counsel and the committee agreed that “any such insensitivity did not affect any decision-making of the Members of the Committee.”

It also informed Waters that the Sixth Amendment does not apply to committee proceedings, and she is not entitled to a speedy trial like a criminal defendant.

As for whether confidential information was leaked, the letter also disclosed that investigators found “three instances in which confidential committee information was disclosed,” with one example attributed to the congresswoman herself during a news conference on Aug. 13, 2010, when she “disclosed documents containing significant evidentiary information.”

The committee’s review did not uncover the identity of the person or persons responsible for the other leaks, although one witness, described as “a former member of the staff of the committee,” invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when responding to questions regarding the leaked documents.

A spokesman for Waters did not immediately respond to a request for comment reacting to the committee’s letter.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov292011

Dems Jockey to Replace Rep. Barney Frank on Banking Committee

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After Rep. Barney Frank announced his decision on Monday to retire at the end of this term, attention quickly turned to who might take over his slot as the top-ranked Democrat on the powerful House Financial Services committee.

If House Democrats are able to score a net gain of 26 seats in next fall’s election, this lawmaker would ascend to the powerful committee’s chairmanship. The committee has jurisdiction over all issues pertaining to the economy, the banking system, housing, insurance, and securities and exchanges. Additionally, it has control over monetary policy, international finance, international monetary organizations and efforts to combat terrorist financing.

Waiting in the wings is Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat who made headlines last year for an ethics investigation into whether she abused her powers as a member of Congress.

After Frank announced his retirement, Waters unabashedly made her intentions quickly known.

“As the next most senior member of the committee, the current ranking member on the Capital Markets subcommittee and the former chair of the Housing and Community Opportunity subcommittee, I hope to use my experience to continue and expand [Rep. Frank's] work in the committee,” Waters, an 11-term lawmaker from Los Angeles, wrote in a statement Monday. “I will continue to champion practical regulations, while making sure they work for consumers and the financial sector, a sector which has the right to be profitable but the obligation to be fair, two concepts which are not mutually exclusive.”

Waters, a popular member of the Congressional Black Caucus, has persistently maintained her innocence and asked for the case to be dismissed. Since the allegations first surfaced, she has repeated to reporters that there was “no benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced: no case.”

Among the charges Waters faced is that she allegedly broke House conduct rules for her role helping a minority-owned bank obtain federal bailout money during the financial collapse in September 2008. Waters’ husband was a former board member of the bank and held more than $300,000 in stock at the time of the requested meeting.

A trial scheduled for last November was postponed indefinitely and the investigation effectively reset after two lawyers on the ethics committee resigned following allegations they secretly communicated with Republicans on the panel and compromised the investigation. Outside counsel was then hired to determine whether the case against Waters should proceed. That report is due on Jan. 2.

But beyond the ethics investigation, Waters’ rise to the top is far from a done deal. The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee nominates members for the next Congress’s committee assignments and then the full House Democratic Caucus votes to confirm the nomination next year during the lame-duck Congress.

Now other senior Financial Services Democrats are thought to be lobbying Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for a chance to skip through the informal line of succession.

Following Waters in Democratic seniority are Reps. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), Nydia Velazquez, (N.Y.), and Mel Watt (N.C.).

Maloney, in particular, is expected to make a run at the gig after she was passed over in seniority to make room for another CBCer, Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), to take the Democrats’ top position on the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform last year. A spokesman for Maloney declined to comment on her future intentions related to the committee’s leadership.

Maloney is a close ally of Pelosi and is credited with championing the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights. Waters, who came to Congress the same year as House Speaker John Boehner, is considered to be a strong vote counter and is a three-time chief deputy whip of the Democratic caucus. A spokesman for Pelosi declined to comment on the brewing battle for the slot.

Democratic aides say a potential battle between Waters and Maloney “puts leadership in a tough position” because both lawmakers are deserving of the position and have labored steadily in the trenches of the committee for years.

Frank declined to endorse a Democrat to replace him atop the committee, but added that while seniority should be the initial consideration, “you do try to have some rules to minimize conflict” and “it shouldn’t take an enormous amount for people to vote no.”

“I think the rule that we have is a pretty good one,” Frank said. “Seniority should be, in legal terms, a very rebuttable presumption.”

Waters is currently the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises while Maloney is the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

The Congressional Black Caucus, which Waters formerly chaired, is expected to discuss the committee’s shakeup at a meeting Wednesday afternoon. One senior Democratic aide close to the CBC said that “everyone is behind [Waters], including Rep. Watt,” and contended that “it does not make sense to look beyond Waters.”

“Waters is next in line,” the source said. “She has ranking in seniority and it would be looked at as unfair if she was not considered.”

Another senior Democratic aide said that based on her record, Waters is stronger than the rest of the field, in addition to having more seniority than anyone else.

“Whether you like her or not, Waters is a well-respected member of House,” another Democratic source said. “She is second in line, and seniority is an important aspect.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug232011

Tea Party Responds to Maxine Waters' 'Go Straight to Hell' Comment

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Tea Party wasn't about to let Congresswoman Maxine Waters' condemnation of them go unanswered.

Last weekend at a town meeting in her home district, the California Democrat unleashed a fiery denunciation of the anti-big government group for working against administration economic policies, saying the Tea Party "can go straight to Hell."

On Monday, Tea Party Patriots co-founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler said that Waters ought to be censured by the Democratic Party and President Obama.

They added, "Is civility required only of their opponents?  The president's silence on these latest violations of civility has been deafening, but not surprising."

Obama has already been taken to task for not reprimanding Vice President Joe Biden during the debate over raising the debt ceiling.  At the time, some House Democrats reportedly accused the Tea Party of being "terrorists" and "hostage takers" for abandoning any compromise.  Biden allegedly agreed with their assessment, although he denied calling them terrorists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Rep. Maxine Waters Tells Tea Party to 'Go Straight to Hell'

Waters [dot] House [dot] gov(INGLEWOOD, Calif.) -- An outspoken Californa Democrat didn't mince words for her feelings about the Tea Party during a town hall meeting in Inglewood, California this past Saturday.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, told a largely supportive crowd, "This is a tough game.  You can’t be intimidated.  You can’t be frightened.  As far as I’m concerned, the Tea Party can go straight to Hell."

Democrats have been frustrated with the influence the anti-big government Tea Party has wielded over the Republican Party, pushing many once centrist party members farther to the right because of fears of facing tough reelection battles.

As the deal to raise the debt ceiling earlier this month was about to be voted on, some Democrats compared the Tea Party to terrorists during a meeting in which Vice President Joe Biden allegedly agreed with that assessment.  Biden has denied doing so.

Waters has also been critical of President Obama lately, claiming the commander-in-chief hasn't taken command of jobs creation, with minorities facing the steepest unemployment rates.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec012010

Rep. Waters Questions Ethics of Ethics Process

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) reacted to reports that two top attorneys assigned to work the ethics case against her have been dismissed.

In a statement Wednesday, Waters said it has not been made clear to her why the Ethics Committee placed two members of counsel on administrative leave.

“We don’t know the specifics, but we know that the integrity of the Committee and its investigative process have been compromised," Waters said. “The longer the Committee withholds the details of its actions, the more the public’s confidence in the House ethics process is eroded.”

Waters said she was notified after their removal that the case against her would be delayed and that she believed something had “gone wrong in the ethics process.”

“From the beginning, I have been concerned with the Committee’s unsupported conclusions, often contradictory arguments, and unfounded negative inferences,” Waters said.  “It now seems that these concerns were justified, as the Committee’s sanctioning of its own attorneys is an acknowledgement of flaws and failures in the Committee’s processes and handling of my case.”

Waters is under investigation by the Ethics Committee after she was accused of violating House ethics rules by intervening with regulators on behalf of a bank in which she had substantial investments.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov192010

Rep. Maxine Waters House Ethics Case Delayed

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The House Ethics Committee Friday cancelled the upcoming public trial set for Nov. 29 of California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, saying the discovery of "new materials" in the case means further investigation is required.

Waters, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, stands accused of improperly using her influence in 2008 to help secure $12 million in TARP funds for a struggling bank with financial ties to her husband. She has denied any wrongdoing.

It's unclear what new information the committee will consider and how it could affect the charges or the need for a public trial. However, it's likely that resolution of the Waters case will not occur before the next Congress is seated in January.

The committee's announcement comes one day after the panel of five Democrats and five Republicans concluded its public trial for veteran New York Rep. Charles Rangel. The members recommended Rangel be censured by the full House after what chairwoman Rep. Zoe Lofgren called "wrenching" deliberations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Friday
Oct082010

Rangel, Waters Ethics Trials Set for Late November

Photo Courtest - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When the House of Representatives returns to Washington for a lame duck session after the Nov. 2 congressional midterm elections, one of the first orders of business will be settling the alleged ethics violations of embattled Reps. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. and Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Rangel, a 20-term lawmaker from Harlem, will face the ethics committee first in a proceeding formally called an adjudicatory hearing, on Nov. 15, the first day the House is expected back in session after the elections. Waters, who is seeking her 11th term this fall, is set to begin her hearing Nov. 29, the chairwoman of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced Thursday evening.

According to the statement released Thursday evening, the adjudicatory subcommittees will hold the hearings “to determine whether any counts in the Statement of Alleged Violation regarding Representative Rangel or Representative Waters have been proven by clear and convincing evidence.”

During these hearings, Rangel and Waters will be permitted to appear before the committee to defend themselves. Members of the adjudicatory subcommittees that separately investigated each lawmaker will then vote whether Rangel and Waters are guilty of their respective charges.

The announcement comes in response to a statement Sept. 28 by the five Republican members of the committee, who accused Chairwoman Lofgren and the majority members of the committee of stalling the proceedings until after the congressional midterm elections. Both Rangel and Waters themselves had also publicly called for the committee to begin their cases prior to the Nov. 2 election.

On Aug. 10, Rangel delivered a bold, emotional impromptu speech on the House floor, imploring his fellow lawmakers to expedite the hearing and give him a chance to clear his name.

Rangel, 80, who was formerly chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, stands accused of 13 counts of violating House rules and has denied any wrongdoing. He stands accused of failing to reveal more than half a million dollars in assets on financial disclosure forms; improperly obtaining four rent-controlled apartments in New York City; and failing to disclose financial arrangements for a villa at the Punta Cana Yacht Club in the Dominican Republic.

Perhaps the most serious allegations surround his fundraising activities for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College of New York. Rangel allegedly used his status on the Ways & Means Committee to raise money for the center from corporations and foundations that had business before the House and his committee.

Among the charges Waters faces is that she allegedly broke House conduct rules for her role helping a minority-owned bank obtain federal bailout money during the financial collapse in September 2008. Waters' husband was a former board member of the bank and held more than $300,000 in stock at the time of the requested meeting.

“After an investigation that has lasted over a year, I am eager to have the opportunity to clear my name. I would have liked for this matter to be resolved before the election in November and have repeatedly called for a hearing to be scheduled as soon as possible,” Waters said in a statement Thursday to ABC News.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio
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