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The Trials of Rep. Maxine Waters: Ethics or payback?

The Trials of Rep. Maxine Waters: Ethics or payback?

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Published by Chad B Harper
The trials of Rep. Maxine Waters: Ethics or payback?
August 20, 2010
by Joseph Debro


Watch the videos
http://sfbayview.com/2010/the-trials-of-rep-maxine-waters-ethics-or-payback/
The trials of Rep. Maxine Waters: Ethics or payback?
August 20, 2010
by Joseph Debro


Watch the videos
http://sfbayview.com/2010/the-trials-of-rep-maxine-waters-ethics-or-payback/

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The trials of Rep. Maxine Waters: Ethics or payback?

August 20, 2010 by Joseph Debro

Congresswoman Maxine Waters testifies before the House Intelligence Commitee March 16, 1998, then chaired by Congressman Porter Goss, on CIA involvement in drug trafficking. Goss, who stoutly resisted the full investigation of the CIA-crack connection that Waters pressed him for, is now charging Waters with violations of House ethics rules stemming from her legitimate advocacy for Black banks. She categorically denies the allegations and welcomes a House trial to clear her good name. – Video frame: CitizenInvestigator Congresswoman Maxine Waters waged a more successful war on drugs than the entire U.S. government. Maxine was concerned with those who made enormous profits from this trade, such as Ronald Reagan. He used those profits to fight a war for which the Congress would not pay. He flooded urban America with that poison. South Central Los Angeles was one of its targeted destinations. South Central is the heart of Maxine’s district. “Former President George Bush, while serving as vice president in the Ronald Reagan administration in 1981-89, presided over a Nicaraguan Contra cabal that was responsible for flooding the streets of Los Angeles’ South Central district with crack cocaine and fueling a murderous cycle of gang violence,” wrote Jeffrey Steinberg in the Sept. 13, 1996, issue of Executive Intelligence Review. This is the most important conclusion to be drawn from “Dark Alliance,” a series of articles by Gary Webb published in the San Jose Mercury News on Aug. 18-20, 1996, and later as a book. Maxine Waters was concerned about this high-level drug business. She invited Gary Webb to Washington to testify. I arranged for his airline ticket. Gary was ignored by the committee investigating the issue, a committee headed by Porter Goss.

“Mercury reporter Gary Webb provided a detailed account of how the Nicaraguan Democratic Forces (FDN, the Contras) financed their 1980s war against the Sandinista regime in Managua, through a cocaine pipeline that went from Colombia, to the San Francisco Bay Area, to the streets of Los Angeles, placing crack cocaine and guns into the hands of the Crips and the Bloods,” Steinberg continues. For this piece of work, Gary was fired from the paper.

Porter Goss, who now heads the Office of Congressional Ethics that charged Congresswoman Maxine Waters with ethics violations, chaired the House Intelligence Committee’s March 16, 1998, hearing on CIA involvement in drug trafficking. Here he smirks as he listens to Waters’ testimony (recorded in four videos below). During the hearing, CIA Inspector General Fred Hitz testified that the CIA failed to “cut off relationships with individuals supporting the Contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug trafficking.” Waters pressed Goss to continue the investigation, emphasizing that only Congress had the necessary subpoena power – not the CIA, the Justice Department nor the White House. "I believe the dramatic new developments in this ongoing scandal make it imperative that the House Intelligence Committee hold full public hearings to be able to fully and adequately complete its investigation," wrote Waters. Finally in May 1999 Goss held another hearing, but it was closed and secret and Waters was not even allowed to attend. – Video frame: CitizenInvestigator All the time that this crack epidemic was being unleashed by the Contras, Vice President Bush was the man in charge of the Reagan administration’s Central America drug trading program, overseeing all of the activities of the CIA, the Pentagon and every other government intelligence agency. “Some of Bush’s most immediate subordinates,” Steinberg reported, “including his National Security Adviser Donald Gregg, National Security Council staffer Lt. Col. Oliver North, and ‘ex’-CIA officer Felix Rodriguez, were major players in the day-to-day cocaineContra operations. “As the result of wide public exposure of the San Jose Mercury charges, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) called for a full federal investigation of the Contra-crack connections. Sen. Boxer, on Aug. 28, wrote to CIA head John Deutch, asking him to investigate the Mercury allegations, which emphasized the role of the CIA in directing the FDN. On Sept. 4, Deutch wrote Boxer that he had ordered the Agency’s Inspector General to

conduct an internal review of the allegations and report back to him within 60 days.” No such report was ever seen. In 2004, Gary Webb was found dead from two gunshot wounds to the head, which the coroner’s office called a suicide. Prior to the Mercury series, there was massive evidence that the Reagan-Bush-North Contra apparatus was involved in flooding the United States with cocaine, through Mena, Arkansas, and other locations. Repeated efforts by Maxine Waters and honest agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies to investigate were systematically suppressed by Porter Goss for “national security” reasons. Maxine appeared before the Goss committee many times in her effort to unmask the drug kingpins that were in the U.S. government and the major banks of the United States. Porter Goss, now a non-member of the United States Congress, is co-chair of the ethics committee investigating Maxine Waters. If Mr. Goss is as successful in investigating her as he was in covering up the drug misdeeds of two presidents, Maxine is in deep doo-doo. Maxine is the go to person for Black and Brown people who seek economic justice. The National Bankers Association went to her for access. She arranged the access. She had no authority in the decisions made by the government. She had no control over the claims made by the bankers. She had made disclosures about her interest on several public occasions in the required venues. Joseph Debro is president of Bay Area Black Builders, co-founder of the National Association of Minority Contractors, a general engineering contractor and a bio-chemical engineer. He can be reached at transbay@netzero.com.

Rep. Waters speaks out on current ethics charges
Congresswoman Maxine Waters was the guest for a 39-minute interview Aug. 18, 2010, on KPFA’s Letters to Washington, hosted by Mitch Jeserich. They discussed the allegations of ethics rules violations she currently faces and the ethics investigation process. Letters to Washington – August 18, 2010 at 10:00am Click to listen

Videos When the Nicaraguan Contras began to covertly fund their war against the Sandanistas by selling drugs and guns to California street gangs, the Central Intelligence Agency turned a blind eye. While Black neighborhoods were being ravaged by the crack cocaine plague, CIA operatives

actively participated in this devastating drug explosion, protected from prosecution by a secret agreement between the Department of Justice and the CIA. – Video: http://www.prisonplanet.com/

On March 16, 1998, the House Intelligence Committee heard testimony concerning a report on CIA involvement in drug trafficking. The testimony of Congresswoman Maxine Waters is recorded in these four videos. http://sfbayview.com/2010/the-trials-of-rep-maxine-waters-ethics-or-payback/ (go to the original article to watch the videos) You may also like Black leaders stand strong for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, champion of economic justiceBlack leaders stand strong for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, champion of economic justice Ethics case: Debro reveals probe's motives, Waters fights back with the factsEthics case: Debro reveals probe's motives, Waters fights back with the facts Douse the firestorm, let Maxine Waters get back to the people’s businessDouse the firestorm, let Maxine Waters get back to the people’s business

http://sfbayview.com/2010/the-trials-of-rep-maxine-waters-ethics-or-payback/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-fiderer August 4, 2010

How the Charges Against Maxine Waters Were Fabricated Out of Next to Nothing
It's not hard to figure out why the allegations against Maxine Waters seem bogus. You simply need to read the 80-page House Ethics Report carefully. In order to concoct a case against her, the authors of the report twisted the meaning of the House Ethics rules and embellished the underlying facts. The report was first published one year ago, but is now being released shortly before the 2010 campaign season. The timing alone makes you wonder. http://ethics.house.gov/Media/PDF/Waters%20OCE%20Report.pdf The specific charge is easy to understand: "Maxine Waters requested a meeting." That's it. That's all of it. No charge that Waters ever interfered with the execution of anyone's legal duties, or that she applied undue pressure on anyone, or that she engaged in any inappropriate financial transactions. Only that she requested a meeting. At worst, she wasted people's time. The meeting, with officials at the Department of Treasury, got no results. According to the report, Waters violated House Rule 23, Clause 3 because she received some nonexistent "compensation" that accrued from the meeting that went nowhere. The rule states: A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not receive compensation and may not permit compensation to accrue to his beneficial interest from any source, the receipt of which would occur by virtue of influence improperly exerted from his position in Congress. A meeting is not compensation. It's a courtesy. If the meeting did not result in financial gain to Waters, then the rule does not apply. Similarly, neither a request for a meeting, nor an expression of a particular policy concern, is an "improper exertion of influence," which involves some kind of interference with the performance of a government official's duties. The authors of the report twist the meaning of the words in order to fabricate a case out of thin air. On September 8, 2008, Waters asked that Treasury officials meet with representatives of the National Bankers Association, an 80-year-old organization of minority-owned banks. The NBA was concerned about the fallout of Treasury's decision to put Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship. On September 9, Robert Cooper, chairman-elect of the NBA, expressed those concerns at a meeting attended by 20 people, primarily staffers for Treasury and "various bank regulatory agencies." The meeting lasted 45 minutes to an hour, and about half of the time was used by Treasury Department officials to explain why the government took the actions it did

with regard to Fannie and Freddie. According to Cooper, "The meeting took the form of a dialogue with everyone speaking." Cooper was also Senior Counsel for OneUnited, a minority-owned bank headquartered in Boston. He brought along two others from OneUnited, which was used "as an exemplar of the impact the Treasury Department's decisions would have on minority-owned banks." Waters was not at the gathering. The authors of the report allege that "the discussion at the meeting centered on a single bank -- OneUnited," though they offer zero evidence, from any of the 20 attendees, to contradict the claim that OneUnited was referenced for illustrative purposes, as part of a generalized policy request. OneUnited also has five branches in the greater Los Angeles area, not far from Waters' district. Five months earlier, Waters' husband had resigned from OneUnited's board, though he still held shares of OneUnited. Had Treasury adopted the NBA proposal, many of its member banks would have benefited, including OneUnited. The authors of the report go to great pains to insinuate that the NBA proposal would have benefited OneUnited exclusively. In fact, Waters declined to help out OneUnited when it sought out government assistance that was above and beyond that afforded other banks. A few weeks after the meeting, she sought the advice of a colleague because she wanted to help the firm but felt conflicted. The colleague told her to "stay out of it," and she did. The report's authors falsely claim that: The rules and precedent cited above clearly enunciate a standard that restricts Members from advocating for a matter in which they have a personal financial interest. Therefore, if Representative Waters advocated for OneUnited while her husband maintained a significant investment in the bank, then she may have violated House Rule 23 and House standards regarding conflicts of interest. That's not correct. The standard regarding advocacy and financial conflicts of interest is not clearly enunciated at all. The standard for voting on legislation, which is very clear cut, makes a strong distinction between laws that benefit a general class of people versus a law directed at a single business in which a member may have a financial interest. So long as the matter pertains to a general class, as opposed to a specific business, members are free to vote as they choose: Since legislation considered by Congress affects such a broad spectrum of business and economic endeavors, a Member of the House may be confronted with the possibility of voting on legislation that would have an impact upon a personal economic interest. This may arise, for example, where a bill authorizes appropriations for a project for which the contractor is a corporation in which the Member is a shareholder, or where a Member holds a kind of municipal security for which a bill would provide federal guarantees. Longstanding House precedents have not found such interests to warrant abstention under the above-quoted House Rule that instructs Members to vote on each question presented unless they have ― a direct personal or pecuniary interest in the event of such question. Rather, it has

generally been found that ― where legislation affected a class as distinct from individuals, a Member might vote. As shown by more recent applications of the rule, however, even where one corporation or entity is primarily affected by legislation, a Member's interest in such corporation or entity might not be found to be a disqualifying interest in the subject matter." When the actions extend beyond voting on legislation, to advocacy, there is no express standard, only a vague requirement for "added circumspection." The provisions of House Rule 3, clause 1, as discussed in this section, apply only to Member voting on the House floor. They do not apply to other actions that Members may normally take on particular matters in connection with their official duties, such as sponsoring legislation, advocating or participating in an action by a House committee, or contacting an executive branch agency. Such actions entail a degree of advocacy above and beyond that involved in voting, and thus a Member's decision on whether to take any such action on a matter that may affect his or her personal financial interests requires added circumspection. Moreover, such actions may implicate the rules and standards, discussed above, that prohibit the use of one's official position for personal gain. Whenever a Member is considering taking any such action on a matter that may affect his or her personal financial interests, the Member should first contact the Standards Committee for guidance. True, Waters did contact the Treasury Department without first clearing it with the Standards Committee. Except the request was made on September 8, 2008, when things were evolving so rapidly at Fannie and Freddie that it would have been imprudent for her to wait for the Committee's guidance. (After all, they waited a year to release this completed report.) Again, the report illustrates how you can fabricate an ethics charge out of next to nothing.

Investigator backs Rep. Maxine Waters in ethics probe
The House Ethics Committee expects to end the case against Rep. Maxine Waters, accused of aiding a bank with ties to her husband. September 22, 2012|By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) is shown with her husband, Sidney Williams,… (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…) WASHINGTON — For three years, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) steadfastly maintained that during a call with the Treasury secretary in the midst of the nation's financial crisis she was looking out for the interests of all minority-owned banks — not just one with ties to her husband. She did nothing wrong, she said repeatedly.

On Friday, the House Ethics Committee investigator agreed. His recommendation, expected to be approved by the panel, would bring to an end a long and often tumultuous ethics case against Waters, who was accused of improperly helping a bank in which her husband owned stock. "The evidence in the record does not support a knowing violation of ethics rules or any other standard of conduct with respect to Rep. Maxine Waters by a clear and convincing standard," said Billy Martin, the Washington attorney hired by the committee. He presented his findings at a rare public session of the usually secretive panel, whose own behavior came under scrutiny during the Waters probe.

Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), acting chairman of the committee in the Waters case, said that the panel, evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, was prepared to accept Martin's recommendation. The committee met behind closed doors Friday before adjourning. Officials declined to comment. An announcement, along with Martin's 150-page report, is expected early next week. The recommendation is bittersweet for the veteran South Los Angeles congresswoman, one of Los Angeles' most enduring liberal politicians. She declined to comment after the meeting, but left smiling with her husband. The expected exoneration of the outspoken 74-year-old lawmaker clears the way for her to become the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee in the next Congress, succeeding the retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). But the ethics committee was considering its lightest form of punishment against Waters' chief of staff and grandson, Mikael Moore, for seeking to help OneUnited Bank. Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, served on the OneUnited board from January 2004 to April 2008 and owned stock in the institution. Moore, appearing before the committee, denied any wrongdoing. Waters did not speak during the meeting and said she would not talk about the investigation until after the committee announces its final decision. Frank issued a statement saying that he was "pleased but not surprised that the House Ethics Committee found no reason to bring any charges against my colleague." The case stemmed from a telephone call that Waters, a senior member of the congressional committee that oversees banking, made to then-Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson during the financial crisis to set up a September 2008 meeting between his staff and representatives of minority-owned banks.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that referred the case to the House Ethics Committee, said the discussion at the meeting "centered on a single bank, OneUnited." Three months later, OneUnited received $12 million in federal bailout funds, which had not yet been repaid as of Monday. Waters, a prominent politician who has held elective office in Sacramento or Washington for more than three decades, insisted that her efforts were consistent with her longtime work to promote opportunity for minority-owned businesses and lending in underserved communities. She said that she also had fully disclosed her husband's ties to the bank.

Martin said that after reviewing more than 150,000 pages of documents and the transcripts of 41 witnesses and conducting his own interviews, he concluded that Waters, in seeking the Treasury meeting, "believed she was acting on behalf of all minority banks which she believed had been seriously affected by the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." "Because the evidence supports that she was acting on behalf of a large group of banks, we found no evidence in the record to support that her phone call to arrange the meeting violated any House rule or any other standard of conduct," Martin said. If Waters, accused of three ethics violations, had been found guilty of improper behavior, she could have faced a range of punishments, including reprimand, censure or even expulsion, all of which require votes of the House. The committee was considering sending a letter of reproval to Moore for efforts to specifically aid OneUnited, including sending a September 2008 email to House Financial Services Committee staff that said "OU" — meaning OneUnited — "is in trouble." Moore, appearing before the committee with Waters seated behind him, denied that he knew about the congresswoman's husband's investment in OneUnited. "The work that I did in September of 2008 was not on behalf of any one bank," he told the committee. But Martin said that he found Moore's assertions "incredible and doubted the credibility of his testimony generally." Moore, though, expressed relief.

Sep 21, 2012 Rep. Waters cleared of ethics violations By Catalina Camia, USA TODAY Updated 2012-09-21 11:47 AM The House Ethics Committee cleared Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., today of wrongdoing after an investigation of twoplus years that was marred by scandal within the committee itself. The committee held a rare public hearing, announced less than 24 hours ago, to discuss the Waters case and hear from Mikael Moore, her grandson and chief of staff. The panel found there is insufficient evidence "to prove violation by a clear standard which is necessary for formal sanctions." The ruling brings to a close a case based on meetings with federal regulators that took place four years ago. In August 2010, the Ethics Committee unveiled charges against Waters alleging that she and Moore intervened with federal regulators in 2008 to secure a loan for OneUnited, a community bank in which her husband held hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares. Waters has long argued that she was advocating on behalf of all minority-owned banks. Waters, first elected in 1990, is in line to become the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee next year upon the retirement of Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. If Democrats win majority control in November, Waters would be in line to become the chairman of the committee, which holds broad sway over Wall Street. The Waters case was headed for the equivalent of an "ethics trial" in November 2010, but the public hearing was canceled when the committee discovered that evidence in the case had been mishandled by staff. The committee suspended two attorneys and hired an independent investigator to review its own handling of the Waters case. In June, 19 months after the original hearing was scheduled, the committee informed Waters that the congresswoman's rights had not been violated and the case could proceed -- even though it believed staff members made unauthorized disclosures about the case.

At various times since the charges were first announced, Waters has demanded a public hearing so that she could clear her name. She maintained the long delay was a violation of her constitutional right to a speedy trial. The committee disagreed. The ethics panel found that Moore took actions he should not have to advocate on behalf of OneUnited. He is expected to receive a letter admonishing him for his actions but not face a reprimand or other sanctions by the House, the Associated Press reports. (Contributing: Paul Singer)

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