Friday, March 13, 2009

The Queen of Compton

A couple months ago, I
noted a bank that had benefitted from the "intercession" of Barney Frank also had a Maxine Waters connection. Now her connection has appeared on the front page of the NY Times: Congresswoman With Ties to Bank Helped Pave the Way to Aid

Top federal regulators say they were taken aback when they learned that a California congresswoman who helped set up a meeting with bankers last year had family financial ties to a bank whose chief executive asked them for up to $50 million in special bailout funds.

Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, requested the September meeting on behalf of executives at OneUnited, one of the nation’s largest black-owned banks. Ms. Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, had served on the bank’s board until early last year and has owned at least $250,000 of its stock.

I have to admit. I always thought Maxine Waters was nothing more than just another loud mouth progressive who liked to play the Race Card at random moments to keep people off balance. I had no idea she had any sort of connection to a bank, let alone once sat on its board of directors. Now that we've learned that Waters is secretly wealthy, can someone please find her undoubtedly huge house?

The business about how her husband made sure to keep his bank business separate from Waters is a classic example of meeting the letter, but not the spirit of, ethics rules. Like Waters didn't benefit from her husband's interests in the bank? She was married to him! What did she do, put him in a blind trust? Certainly, if she and her husband got divorced, the bank stock would be considered community property as community earnings.

I think it's great that we can create such a juicy bit of influence peddling out of this story (especially when the target is so well deserving), but we shouldn't forget the other potential scandal here. This appears to a bank that was heavily exposed to subprime mortgages. Were they issuing "liar loans?" Were they selling mortgages to poor people that they knew could never be paid back? Were they turning Waters' constituents into debt slaves who could only be freed by foreclosure or bankruptcy?

What would Waters' constituents think if they found out that Waters was ripping them off even as she used her ostentatious progressive politics to accrue power and wealth to herself and her family?

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