Representative Maxine Waters has a financial stake in OneUnited Bank - a minority owned enterprise that received TARP money last fall.
Waters, who sits on the Committee that oversees banks, has praised the directors of the bank while chastizing government regulators:
This kind of incestuous relationship with institutions with which a Congressman has a financial interest and sits on a Committee that oversees the industry involved is commonplace on the Hill. No word from "the most ethically clean Congress in history" about reforming this revolting practice or changing ethics rules that would prevent Congressmen from sitting on Committees where they have a financial interest in legislation.
Ms. Waters and her husband have both held financial stakes in the bank. Until recently, her husband was a director. At the same time, Ms. Waters has publicly boosted OneUnited's executives and criticized its government regulators during congressional hearings. Last fall, she helped secure the bank a meeting with Treasury officials.
Such potential conflicts of interest are more serious as the banking system's crisis has led the government to take an increasingly active role in overseeing financial institutions, including OneUnited. The financial-services committee on which Ms. Waters sits oversees banking issues, and the lawmaker is a potential future chairman.
Representatives of the bank and Ms. Waters didn't return calls seeking comment. Ms. Waters's congressional staff didn't respond to written questions about her and her husband's relationship with the bank.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group, says Ms. Waters should have recused herself from any matters involving the bank. If her support helped OneUnited, "it was a disservice to her constituents," Ms. Krumholz says.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky