Journalism in the Public Interest


Waters Asked Twice for Treasury to Give Bank Bailout Bucks

Getty Images file photoSince we wrote earlier today about OneUnited, the little minority-owned Massachusetts bank with some big friends, there’s some more to tell. The New York Times reports that Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), whose husband owned more than $250,000 worth of stock in the bank as recently as last year, helped the bank seek federal funds not once, but twice, and the first time came in September, before the $700 billion bailout bill had even been passed.

The September request (they wanted $50 million) appears to have shocked Treasury employees. One told the Times, “I don’t remember that ever happening before.” Waters arranged for a meeting that was ostensibly to deal with troubles at minority-owned banks but turned out to be a pitch for OneUnited.

Waters refused to answer the Times’ questions, as she did the Wall Street Journal’s. The details cast further doubt on Waters’ claim in a January interview with the Journal that she had no idea the bank had gotten a $12 million piece of the bailout. According to the Times, she’d called the Treasury in early December to make sure OneUnited was getting the attention it deserved. The bank got bailout funds later that month.

Both the Treasury and OneUnited’s regulator, the FDIC, deny that Waters’ intervention had anything to do with Treasury’s ultimate decision. OneUnited’s CEO, speaking to the Times, goes one step further. Waters “did not really do anything,” he says:

Ms. Waters is an important advocate for minorities and minority issues and an indispensable part of Los Angeles communities. But we derived no benefit whatsoever from any activity related to her. And she did not really do anything. There is nothing that she did that impacted the process.

Woody McBreairty

March 12, 2009, 5:33 p.m.

It’s really disappointing to keep reading things like this…especially about people you like very much. I have met Maxine Waters and feel she is on the side of the working class; however, as a long time and strong Democrat, I feel crooks are crooks and they should be thrown out. These people should be ashamed and embarassed to face people after their crooked behavior is exposed like this. The Republicans defend their crooks, but the Democrats do not; it shows strong convictions, good character and honesty to hold these self serving users and abusers of the tax payers accountable for their dishonest behavior.  I hate to say it but I hope both Barney Frank and Maxine Waters are further exposed and whatever devious & dishonest and/or illegal behavior is dealt with appropriately, even if it means their leaving congress in the disgrace they have potentially brought upon themselves.

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