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Waters Hit With Three Ethics Charges

1:20 PM, Aug 9, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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California Rep. Maxine Waters has been formally charged by the House Ethics Committee with three ethics violations:

The 10-page "Statement of Alleged Violation" focuses on the actions of Waters and Mikael Moore, who is the congresswoman's chief of staff and her grandson, and tracks very closely with the year-old findings of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

Waters is accused of improperly intervening on behalf of OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which her husband held stock worth roughly $350,000. The federal government's Sept. 7, 2008, takeover of mortgage-lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac threatened to sink the bank, which was heavily invested in the twin titans of the secondary home-mortgage market.

Waters is framing the work on behalf of OneUnited as a continuation of her career working for minority-owned businesses, setting up a racially charged defense for the special favor.Unnamed lawmakers are obliging her by complaining about a "dual standard" for black lawmakers, but CREW rejects the charge:

The racism charge, though, was rejected by Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog group, even as she acknowledged the current situation is bound to anger black lawmakers.

“There are ethics problems within the CBC,” she said. “They have to acknowledge that.”

Sloan noted that several white lawmakers, including Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), are currently under investigation by federal and congressional investigators.

Both Waters and Rangel are threatening to go to public trial to fight the charges, which would mean two, simultaneous ethics trials for Democrats less than two months before the November elections. The resulting high-profile criticism for the two lawmakers would undoubtedly lead to numerous racism accusations and another entirely unhelpful and rancorous "national conversation" about race.But in the public consciousness, Waters and Rangel won't be symbols of black, corrupt representatives or even Democratic, corrupt representatives (although Dems will pay a bigger p.r. price in this case), but symbols of Washington corruption and the incredible entitlement that comes with it. That's what the country is upset about, and it shouldn't be confused with racism just because the accused happened to be black.

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