‘No benefit, no improper action, no failure to disclose, no one influenced: no case’
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., issued the following statement Monday:
“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 Sept. 6, 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 Sept. 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.”
Congresswoman Waters calls for hearing date, allegations from Standards Committee
Eager to present her case in response to allegations against her, Congresswoman Maxine Waters called on Wednesday on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to schedule an adjudicatory hearing and to release to the public all documents related to her.
Although the committee recently announced it would schedule a hearing as Congresswoman Waters requested, the committee did not determine a date for the hearing. Congresswoman Waters seeks a hearing at the earliest possible date and certainly prior to the election in November.
In a letter to the Committee, she wrote, “I feel strongly that further delay in the scheduling of the hearing violates the fundamental principles of due process, denies my constituents the opportunity to evaluate this case and harms my ability to defend my integrity.”
In addition, the Committee has not released the allegations against Congresswoman Waters, resulting in media reports and speculation based only on a report prepared by the controversial Office of Congressional Ethics. Congresswoman Waters has waived her right to keep the Committee’s findings, known as the Statement of Alleged Violation (SAV), and related documents confidential because she wants the public to be fully informed about this matter. “In combination with the scheduling of the hearing, the release of the SAV will enable this process to take place in a timely manner and provide the transparency that the American public deserves,” she wrote. “I am confident that once the Subcommittee report is released and I am able to present my case, my constituents and all Americans will understand that I have not violated any House rules.”
The full text of the letter Congresswoman Waters sent today to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct follows:
“Dear Chairwoman Lofgren and Ranking Member Bonner:
“I am writing to ask that the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct schedule my adjudicatory hearing prior to the November election. I am deeply concerned by the Committee’s failure to announce a date for a public hearing in its most recent press release. I feel strongly that further delay in the scheduling of the hearing violates the fundamental principles of due process, denies my constituents the opportunity to evaluate this case, and harms my ability to defend my integrity.
“Also, I would like to waive my procedural right and grant permission for the Committee to release the Statement of Alleged Violation (SAV) and all accompanying documents pursuant to Clause 26 (b) of the Committee’s rules. In combination with the scheduling of the hearing, the release of the SAV will enable this process to take place in a timely manner and provide the transparency that the American public deserves.
“I am confident that once the Subcommittee report is released and I am able to present my case, my constituents and all Americans will understand that I have not violated any House rules.”
Contact Congresswoman Maxine Waters at 2344 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC 20515, phone (202) 225-2201, fax (202) 225-7854, website www.house.gov/waters.