Ethics Challenged Maxine Waters Now Top Democrat on Banking Committee

Katie Pavlich

12/5/2012 2:16:00 PM - Katie Pavlich

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters has been placed into the position of Ranking Member on the House Financial Services Committee. This is the same committeee that deals with banking matters and more specifically, banking regulation. The problem? Waters was only cleared (which doesn't mean innocent in Washington) of ethics charges in September over allegations she abused bank bailout funds to benefit a bank run by her husband in California. A refresher:

Last summer [2010], the House Ethics Committee charged the entrenched California congresswoman with three violations related to her wheeling and dealing on behalf of minority-owned OneUnited Bank in Los Angeles. The panel accused Waters of bringing discredit to the House for using her influence to seek and secure taxpayer-subsidized special favors for the failing financial institution.

The minority-owned bank Waters lobbied for — OneUnited — is now under scrutiny from the Treasury Department for skipping TARP aid repayments. Mm, mm, mm. Heckuva job, Congresswoman Bank on OneUnited.

So what are Waters' goals now that she has at least a powerful voice on the committee?

The outspoken liberal vowed Tuesday to protect the Dodd-Frank financial reform law from GOP attempts to dismantle it, while pursuing reform of housing finance with the new chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas).

While Waters and Hensarling rarely see eye to eye on policy, she said in a statement she hoped to "reconcile our visions" at the top of the banking panel. But she gave little indication she was willing to consider changes to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which Hensarling has harshly critiqued.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect, defend and implement the important provisions of Dodd-Frank, which will continue to strengthen our financial system," she said. "I understand that regulatory certainty is an important aspect of growing our economy, and remain committed to ensuring clear and transparent regulation which creates the space for innovation, safety and soundness."

A longtime housing advocate, Waters also made clear that housing reform would be at the top of her agenda in the 113th Congress.

"Housing finance reform, in particular, will be crucial to ensuring the long-term success and stability of our economy. 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," she said.

What could possibly go wrong?