Paul Jacob

Chairman Frank admits that in drafting the rules, “We were very clear we wanted [OneUnited] to be eligible.” After the legislation passed and Treasury handed the bank $12 million smackeroos, Waters and Frank sent the Treasury secretary a letter saying, “we applaud the recent decision.”

Now it turns out that OneUnited had the weakest balance sheet of any bank that was bailed out. The bank is also one of the few bailed-out banks under a federal supervisory enforcement order, as FDIC and the Massachusetts Division of Banks wrote in October of 2008 that they “had reason to believe that the Bank had engaged in unsafe or unsound banking practices and violations of law.”

But for heaven’s sake, let’s not even go into the arrest record of OneUnited’s CEO Kevin L. Cohee. That’s beside the point.

The point is: Did Waters do anything wrong? Her setting up a meeting could be spun, as she has been spinning it, as just another in her many efforts throughout her political career to help “minority interests.”

At her defensive news conference last Friday, she was asked by a reporter, “Is it not odd that the weakest bank that received a bailout in the fourth quarter has a direct, a direct relation to your husband? Is that not odd?”

“I wish I could make this clear to you,” Waters responded.” I have nothing to do with the regulatory agency and how it operates and making those kinds of decisions. We depend on our regulatory agencies to make decisions about whether or not these banks are acting properly. If they’re not, they ought to shut them down.”

Oh, it is true that Waters is big on the federal government throwing its weight around, shutting things down or taking over whole industries. But it doesn’t seem to fit as a rationale for setting up this meeting with Treasury.

Of her fateful call to Paulsen, Waters once commented, “You don’t use your chits for nothing, you call when there is an important issue.” Wasn’t the important issue helping the bank in whose stock was as much as 15 percent of her husband’s net worth? Even she has never suggested it was to ask Treasury to shut down the bank for bad behavior.

After so many years in Washington making policy without reading it, Waters extemporaneous explanations come off contrived. “I just feel that things have unfolded in the way that they have because this is how government is,” she offered. “Things work on a fast pace, we were at a point in time where the economic crisis was right before us, the meltdown was going on, conversations go on, people take actions of sorts, things just go on.”

Yes, things do just go on and on and on in Washington. And, whether laws are broken or not, the outcome is the same: Those in public office and those connected to those in public office are again and again bailed out at the expense of the average honest hard-working taxpayer.

That’s “how government is.” And it’s criminal.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.