On Tuesday, House Democrats unanimously selected Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) to be the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.
Waters will be the ranking member on the committee that deals with banking issues. Last year, the House Ethics Committee investigated Waters, one of the most partisan members of the Congressional Black Caucus, for allegedly using her position in Congress to bail out a bank in which her husband owned $350,000 worth of stock.
The Ethics Committee cleared Waters of any wrongdoing, because it could not find “clear and convincing evidence” that Waters used her influence and position to directly help OneUnited Bank secure a $14 million federal bailout from the TARP program. Six members actually recused themselves from the investigation.
The Ethics Committee did send Waters’ grandson and chief of staff, Mikael Moore, a letter of reproval for his role in taking “certain actions on behalf of OneUnited when he knew or should have known” of his family’s financial interest.” Waters’ office aggressively lobbied the Treasury Department in 2008 to secure bailout funds for OneUnited Bank.
Moore told the committee he had no idea his grandfather owned stock in OneUnited Bank and said it was an “impossible standard” for him to have to find out whether his family members potentially owned stock in banks for which his office was trying to secure bailout funds.
Melanie Sloan, head of the left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), said then that Moore’s employment in his grandmother’s office “set the stage for potential problems.”
“In light of this case, perhaps now the Administration Committee will add grandchildren to the list of relatives members may not employ,” she said.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) will chair the House Financial Services Committee, and Waters said she hoped to “reconcile our visions” in the next Congress. The two do not agree on much. Hensarling wants to reform Dodd-Frank, while Waters wants to strengthen the legislation that is crippling small banks with regulation.
Waters also said she intends top push for “housing finance reform” and a financial system that “facilitates economic opportunity and wealth creation for all.”
“Housing finance reform, in particular, will be crucial to ensuring the long-term success and stability of our economy,” Waters said. “I believe we need a financial system that facilitates economic opportunity and wealth creation for all, and I stand ready to work with my colleagues towards that goal.”