L.A. Observed's business writer Mark Lacter does a fine job pulling together choice quotes from the Wall Street Journal and N.Y. Times on L.A. Congresswoman Maxine Waters' ties to OneUnited Bank. Until a few years ago she was an investor and her husband was once a
director of the Boston-based bank, which has branches in Miami and L.A. to serve low-income and minority communities. The South Los Angeles Democrat has interceded timeand again on OneUnited's behalf. Last September she used her influence as a member of the House Financial Services Committee to arrange a meeting between the Treasury Department and OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee.
Cohee, whose bank has been sanctioned by the FDIC for providing him with a new Porsche SUV and maintenance of his $6.4 million Santa Monica beachfront compound, was seeking a $50 million bailout. He came away with 12 million TARP dollars, even though OneUnited is considered to be existing on shaky ground and had been criticized by regulators for skimping on granting loans to low-income Miami applicants in favor of wealthier ones.
The WSJ quotes financial-services committee chair Barney Frank
as urging Waters to "stay out of it" when he was trying to assist
OneUnited last year. Waters' intercession on behalf of OneUnited at
various points in its history has not been unappreciated: According to
the NYT, bank executives have contributed $12,500 to Waters' election campaigns.
the larger mural of mega-bank failures and investment-house failures,
the matter of OneUnited and its L.A. congressional advocate probably
amounts to a mere footnote. However, Waters' open intervention on
behalf of the bank, along with her racializing the debate over the
banking system (she has referred to at least one large lending
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institution as a "white bank") can only harm the cause of both
minority-owned banks and of banking reform in general. Does she really
want the public to view OneUnited as the King-Drew of lending