North Carolina Democratic Congressman Melvin Watt has a dream job: running a federal agency that controls around $5 trillion in financial assets. For now, he'll have to keep dreaming about it. On October 31, the Senate, by a 57-41 margin, fell three votes shy of the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture (i.e., end debate) over President Obama's nomination of Watt as director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which for over five years has been conservator for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Republicans, with two exceptions, voted to filibuster, believing he wasn't qualified to run the agency. Yet the main problem with Watt is less his qualifications than his view that FHFA should be a permanent agency, and one with favoritism toward nonwhites.
Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post writes today that the House Ethics Committee is planning to spend $500,000 for an investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), and the Committee's own staff.
Last month, the Committee announced the hiring of Billy Martin to review the actions of the Committee's staff that were cited as a reason to push the Waters trial beyond last November's elections. Martin would then proceed to investigate the Waters matter if he determines that the staff's previous conduct was not sufficiently prejudicial to dismiss the case, as she has requested.
On Monday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) asked the House Ethics Committee to dismiss the pending case against her. In the meantime, the Ethics Committee announced that it has hired an outside counsel to pursue the case.
John Bresnahan reported on documents obtained by the Politico that Waters' attorney, Stanley Brand, say compromise the case. Late last year, former chief counsel of the Ethics Committee, Blake Chisam, advised then-Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) that two lead attorneys in the case, Morgan Kim and Stacy Sovereign, provided confidential materials to Republicans on the Ethics Committee.
Nancy Pelosi was quick to refer the Anthony Weiner scandal to the House Ethics Committee. Yet other more substantial matters, like the Maxine Waters trial, have languished for months.
In 2008, Waters, D-Calif., arranged a meeting with the U.S. Department of Treasury and OneUnited Bank. OneUnited claimed it was in dire need of federal cash as a result of its failed Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae investments. The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) provided $12 million to the bank.
In recent days, we have complained about the apparent delay of the House ethics trials of Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) until after the election. We also wondered aloud about why the Republicans on the Ethics Committee were letting it happen.
Today, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the Committee's ranking Republican, said Democrats were “stalling” and accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of having “repeatedly refused to set either the Rangel or Waters trial before the November election."
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is Chair of the House Ethics Committee, which is supposed to be conducting a trial of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) on the 13 violations of House rules the Committee alleged on July 29. There is also supposed to be a trial of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Instead, Lofgren played host on Friday to comedian Stephen Colbert who testified “in character” on the plight of migrant farm workers before a Judiciary Committee subcommittee that Lofgren also chairs. I thought Colbert was actually pretty funny but other reviews were mixed.
So much for draining the swamp. Several sources report that the House will not try Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) until after the November 2 elections. Rangel won the Democratic primary for his seat yesterday, barely achieving 50% of the vote against five challengers. During his House floor speech on August 10 when he was not attacking NLPC, Rangel pleaded for an expedited hearing on the 13 charges leveled against him by the Ethics Committee. This followed months of maneuvering by Rangel to delay the investigation.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), charged with violating House ethics rules, said today on ABC’s Good Morning America that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is "not very tight, they don't do very good work, rather sloppy work."
I was interviewed by David Asman on the Fox Business Network on Wednesday, July 21. The topic is the racial mandates contained in the Dodd-Frank financial services regulatory overhaul. Here's a transcript:
Supporters call it "financial services reform." Yet one has to wonder what the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 is reforming or stabilizing. The House on Wednesday by a 237-192 margin passed the 2,300-plus-page conference bill designed to protect American households from predatory practices by banks, subprime lenders, brokerage houses and other intermediaries. But evidence suggests that if it becomes law, the bill instead will lay the groundwork for another major federal bailout. During House-Senate conference sessions, affirmative action zealots inserted a host of mandates to promote credit allocation by race.