Commentary Magazine


New E-Mails May Bolster Ethics Case Against Rep. Maxine Waters

Just one day after Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) received a censure for violating House ethics rules, new revelations prompted the House Ethics Committee to postpone the high-profile trial of another Democratic member of Nancy Pelosi’s Most Ethical Congress Ever. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is being charged with helping to steer more than $12 million in federal bailout funds to a bank in which her husband had a substantial financial stake.

While Waters insists that the House Ethics Committee delayed her trial due to of lack of evidence, the New York Times is reporting that the exact opposite appears to be the case. Newly discovered e-mails between Waters’s chief of staff and members of the House Financial Services Committee may show that her office continued to lobby on the bank’s behalf after she publicly agreed to halt her involvement in the issue:

The e-mails are between Mikael Moore, Ms. Waters’s chief of staff, and members of the House Financial Services Committee, on which Ms. Waters serves. The e-mails show that Mr. Moore was actively engaged in discussing with committee members details of a bank bailout bill apparently after Ms. Waters agreed to refrain from advocating on the bank’s behalf. The bailout bill had provisions that ultimately benefited OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which her husband, Sidney Williams, owned about $350,000 in shares.

A person closely involved in the investigation told the Times that the new evidence “may directly contradict a bit of Maxine’s story, if not the actual facts, the way she has told it.”

Waters has vehemently denied any wrongdoing ever since she was charged over the summer (she now says that the trial delay “demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred”). Back in August, she mounted an unusually public defense against the allegations, even treating the press to a 90-minute presentation (complete with a 50-page PowerPoint slideshow) disputing the charges.

It’s unclear how long the trial will be postponed for, but the Times reported that the e-mails will have to be examined by an investigative subgroup of the House Ethics Committee before the case can move forward.