By Jim Campbell
The entire concept of a congressional ethics committee is laughable. Politicians, ethics, do that go together well in any phrase? To say the House Ethics Committee is more than an oxymoron breaches the absurd. The case of Congresswoman, Maxine Waters (D-CA) takes it to new heights.
Two years ago, the committee began examining whether Waters tried to steer money from the 2008 financial bailout to a minority-owned bank while her husband was a shareholder and board member of the institution. That’s right two years, the O.J. Simpson murder trial took only 133 days.
The New York Times reported in July 2011, that the charges included; Waters intervened on behalf of One United Bank at the height of the recession, after it lost $50 million on an investment it held in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the federal housing finance agencies. The panel has accused her of helping to steer bailout money to a bank in which her husband, Sidney Williams, owned shares.
Ms. Waters has denied the charges, which include conduct that did not “reflect creditably on the House” and potential financial gain “by virtue of influence improperly exerted from the position of such individual in Congress.” She said the request was on behalf of all minority banks.
The mass walk out came in one of the committee’s most troubled cases, after past allegations of bias by Republican members forced the panel to hire an outside lawyer last July to investigate the committee and its handling of the Waters case.
Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama, the committee’s Republican chairman, said the outside attorney, Billy Martin, requested the recusals. Congresswoman Bonner said. “The recusals were not based on any indication of any wrongdoing or inappropriate partisanship by the members.”
Five Republicans on the committee, including its senior member, Congresswoman, Linda Sanchez (D-CA) withdrew from the case. Partisan politics anyone? All five of the Democrats on the committee quit the panel in 2010 when Congress convened in January last year, saying new members were needed to take a fresh look at the Waters case. However, all five Republicans decided to stay on. This would be a fresh look or more stalling tactics to delay justice?
According to the Richard Simon, writing in the Los Angeles Times, the committee revealed that Congresswoman Maxine Waters, (D-CA) was warned against interceding on behalf of a bank with ties to her husband. Her chief of staff, who is also her grandson, was “actively involved” in working to help the institution.
Congressional rules stipulate that its members must “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House,” “prohibits lawmakers from using their influence for personal benefit” and forbids the dispensing of favors. Waters was accused of violating three rules. Can there be any doubt had she been tried in a U.S. court she would have been found guilty?
No, race baiting is alive and well among a jury of one’s peers; let’s not forget the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, I’m J.C. and I approve this message.