First, Rep. Charles Rangel was accused of 13 ethics violations. It is troubling the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee allegedly failed to pay his taxes.
For New Yorkers, affordable housing is a hot-button issue. So it is especially troubling that Rangel arrogated unto himself four rent-controlled apartments while living la vida loca in the Dominican Republic.
Yesterday, the Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on Rep. Maxine Waters, who is accused of steering TARP funds to a bank in which her husband held stock.
The summary of allegations reads:
There is a substantial reason to believe that Representative Waters’ conduct may have violated House Rule 23, clause 3 and House precedent regarding conflict of interest when she called then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and requested that Treasury Department officials meet with representatives from the National Bankers Association. A meeting was in fact granted, however, the discussion at the meeting centered on a single bank—OneUnited. Representative Waters’ husband had been a board member of the bank from 2004 to 2008 and, at the time of the meeting, was a stock holder of the bank.
In a statement, Waters denied any wrongdoing:
I have not violated any House rules.
Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing.
The possible public trials may play out in September when thousands of black elected officials, academics, community and thought leaders, and activists will be in DC for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual legislative conference.
Waters’ “Banking Issues Forum” is sure to attract a large crowd of constituents and supporters, as well as a media circus.
CBC Week chatter will likely revive the decades-old narrative about the “harassment” of black elected officials.
UPDATE: CBC Chair Barbara Lee released the following statement on Waters:
The House of Representatives has a long-standing and well established ethics process, which should be allowed to proceed without prejudging the outcome. Although the alleged charges remain unclear, some in the media have sought to indict Congresswoman Waters in clear disregard of her right to a fair and due process.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, and in the California State Legislature before that, Congresswoman Waters has been a tireless and effective advocate for underrepresented and underserved communities and institutions. She continues to be an important voice on those and many other issues and should not have her rights usurped by politicians or the press.