Rep. Maxine Waters, who faces an ethics trial after arranging a meeting between Treasury Department officials and a bank in which her husband owned a lot of stock, continues to hit back hard against her accusers in the Office of Congressional Ethics. Waters, who represents South L.A., said she was merely advocating on behalf of minority-owned banks.
Speaking on the public radio station KCRW, Waters said she wants the specifics of the investigation made public now, and a trial date set immediately so she can clear her name. She's bound by confidentiality agreements from discussing all the details, she said. After the jump, some reaction.
"The Daily Show" is its usual funny self, as Stewart notes about the $12 million the bank in question secured from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. "Only $12 million in TARP money. Seriously? If that's all she could get out of TARP, that's not corruption, that's incompetence."
"Legislating while black," jokes "Senior Black Correspondent" Larry Wilmore.
On a more serious note, John McWhorter of The New Republic (The Informer goes highbrow!) has an interesting take on ethics and the Congressional Black Caucus. At one point, eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus were being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Members of the older Civil Rights generation, to include Waters and the embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, have personalized their political mission, McWhorter theorizes.
The (Congressional Black Caucus) traditionally calls itself "the conscience of Congress," and in its public statements and activities often functions as a kind of alternate NAACP rather than as a generator of legislation. Under this frame of mind, there would be little difference between serving "myself" and serving "my people." Surely to combat racism is a greater good than any other. My nonprofit is the fight against racism. The fight against racism is me. Me is the fight against racism. Why not improvise a little, especially if no one is looking?
This seems to be the only kind of explanation, given data in so far, on Maxine Waters' transgression. She consults with Barney Frank about the propriety of setting up a meeting over bailout funds between Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and a consortium of minority-owned banks when her husband was a stockholder in one of the banks. Frank says it isn't a good idea, and yet she goes ahead with it, right down to the meeting itself being populated mainly by reps of the very bank her husband was involved with?
To suppose she was concerned solely with preserving her husband's stock returns may have its kicks.
But a better fit with her entire career's mission, not to mention her current justifications, is that she felt that saving minority banks was a greater good. It's not hard to see that she, in that position, would readily use as a main conduit the personal connections she naturally had with people at the bank her husband was involved with.
Especially if no one was looking. After all, look at what she has sometimes done even while people were looking--I will never forget her dancing on camera with L.A. gang members.