The House Ethics Committee has accused Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) of violating conflict-of-interest rules, making her, after Rep. Charles Rangel, the second Democrat in less than a month to face potentially damaging ethics charges. Waters denies accusations she attempted to funnel bailout funds to OneUnited, a bank at which her husband was a stockholder. Like Rangel, she has said she will fight the charges, setting the stage for a pair of ethics trials that could be potentially damaging to Democrats' chances in the run-up to the midterm elections. How strong is the case against Waters, and could it hurt the Democrats? (Watch an AP report about the charges against Maxine Waters.)
This case has been blown out of proportion: These charges are "bogus," says David Fiderer in The Huffington Post. Waters requested a meeting between the Treasury Department and a coalition of minority-owned banks that included OneUnited. "That's it." She didn't attend the meeting, and anyway, "it got no results." The Ethics Committee has simply "embellished the underlying facts" to build a flimsy case against Waters. "The timing alone makes you wonder."
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Waters knew exactly what she was doing: This is actually an open-and-shut case, says Ruth Marcus at The Washington Post. All but one of the people in the meeting Waters organized were from OneUnited, and the congresswoman "somehow neglected to mention" her own financial interest in that bank when speaking to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. The only wonder is how Waters continues to defend this "directly self-serving" conduct.
The Democrats seem to have an ethics problem: The rap sheet of corrupt Democrats goes on and on, says Michael Graham in the Boston Herald. Rangel, tax evader John Kerry, "tickle fighter" Eric Massa ... and now Waters, who has admitted "lobbying for bailout bucks" for OneUnited, a bank that made "$12,500 in 'coincidental' donations" to her campaign. "Is it just me, or is there a pattern of bad behavior" emerging here?
But the GOP isn't squeaky clean either: No doubt some Republicans will crow about this, says Ryan Tracy in Newsweek. But they may have to "be more guarded than one might expect" about making political hay of it. After all, Sen. John Ensign (R—Nev.) is also being investigated for ethics charges. "The GOP will do well to remember that neither party has a monopoly on charges of corruption."
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