*Today in Washington, CD Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) issued the following statement concerning ethics violations charges:
“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.
Starting with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) report released today, the record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone. Additionally, the OCE acknowledges that I have fully disclosed my assets as required by House rules, even going above and beyond the requirements by disclosing my assets at several Financial Services Committee hearings. In sum, the case against me has no merit.
The accusations against me stem from work I have done throughout my decades of public service as an advocate for minority communities and businesses in California and nationally.
As the financial crisis was unfolding, jeopardizing the health of banks large and small, the National Bankers Association (NBA), a trade organization which represents the interests of more than 100 minority-owned banks, requested a meeting with Treasury Department officials. It is important to clarify that this meeting was requested and scheduled on behalf of the NBA, not on behalf of OneUnited Bank as has been suggested.
A letter from NBA to Treasury, included in the OCE report (see page 39), dated September 6th, 2008, requesting the meeting indicates the intent of the meeting and the dire concern expressed by the association on behalf of its members. The NBA contacted Treasury directly, just as other trade associations did, to request a meeting so that its members could discuss their concerns regarding the crisis facing minority banks. I followed up on the association’s request by asking then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson to schedule such a meeting, as did other members of Congress. Secretary Paulson recognized that the NBA’s concerns about the future of minority banks were valid and arranged for a meeting.
I did not attend the meeting and thus did not participate in the conversation. The OCE focuses on concerns expressed during the meeting between NBA and Treasury on behalf of a single bank. However, NBA’s follow up letter, dated September 10, 2008 and also included in the OCE’s report (see page 59), to Treasury reiterates the organization’s concerns about the fiscal health of its members generally.
Despite this evidence, the committee is arguing that I was not acting to help minority institutions and the constituents they serve but instead that I was trying to help OneUnited (in which my husband held investments) — and that doing so violated House rules related to personally benefiting from official actions and conflict of interest.
However, the suggestion that I gained personally by assisting the National Bankers Association in getting a meeting with the Treasury Department is not credible. Even the OCE acknowledges that the meeting resulted in no action. Although it leveled the accusation, the OCE also failed to show that I received any benefit or engaged in any “improper exercise of official influence.”
The OCE has drawn negative inferences where there are none and twisted facts to fit its faulty conclusions. After a lengthy investigation, the report released today only shows:
No benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced: no case.
Although I am not convinced that the process for investigating and examining House ethics cases is fair, I welcome the opportunity to show my constituents and the American public that the accusations against me are frivolous and unfounded.”