Late last week, news broke that Rep. Maxine Waters is facing ethics charges and has chosen to go through an ethics trial adjudicated by fellow House members. According to the LA Times, “findings on the investigation into Waters by the Office of Congressional Ethics are expected to be made public on Monday.” However, Politico reported on Friday that “Waters’s case revolves around allegations that she improperly intervened with federal regulators to help a bank that her husband owned stock in and on whose board he once served.”
Waters, however, has a lengthy history of engaging in unethical conduct beyond that which seems to have attracted focus this particular time. She has repeatedly been cited by, among others, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, for various ethical breaches that, like this one, involve her apparently using her station to benefit members of her family.
Waters’ kids have worked as paid consultants for politicians and causes backed by their mother.
Her son and husband just happened to win a lease worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to run a golf course where a “key decision-maker” regarding the grant of the lease was a politician whose electoral victory Waters helped deliver.
Waters’ husband has made money off of consulting for a bond underwriting firm where his main responsibilities seem to include making introductions between the company and politicians backed by his wife. This is despite him having had no prior professional experience in anything bond-related prior to assuming this role.
Her daughter, meanwhile, has made hundreds of thousands of dollars off of what looks a lot like selling spots on her mother’s sample ballots, distributed by an organization called LA Vote to residents in South Los Angeles. Charges for such placements have reportedly ranged from $250 to $171,000—so not peanuts.
This last item deserves some attention because while it is the bank matter that will grab attention in the next few days and weeks, it is the paying-off-Waters-relatives-for-promotion-to-voters scandal that could well bog down other Democrats in Waters’ ethical swamp. Ultimately, if we accept that paying-off-Waters-relatives-for-promotion-to-voters stinks of corruption, then we must wonder who has been aiding and abetting this particular brand of corruption. And then our attention turns to, among others, another embattled California Democrat up for re-election this year: Sen. Barbara Boxer.
For most of us, “Boxer” is a name synonymous with liberalism and perhaps a certain daftness, as opposed to corruption. Yet it turns out that Boxer, who has benefited from significant support from Waters in previous elections like, say, that of 2004, has been quite happy to pony up the cash to Waters’ daughter in order to snatch a spot on the LA Vote sample ballot. Per Art Levine, writing for the American Prospect in 2005:
In last November's election, Waters' congressional campaign committee handled the slate-mailer operation under tighter fund-raising restrictions. Yet most candidates and initiative campaigns still paid more than $ 85,000 to get on it, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) records. Senator Barbara Boxer's campaign was the most generous, paying $25,000 to the Waters committee.
$25,000 would strike a lot of people in the current economy as quite a lot of money. But what’s $25,000 between friends and political backscratchers, right?
After Boxer’s most recent flap involving the military, most folks are aware that she sees Waters as one of her best buddies in Congress. After all, she and Waters can “look at each other and roll our eyes” when things happen on the Hill that they’re not so keen on. Those who have tracked Boxer’s meager legislative record will also be aware that she frequently partners with Waters on initiatives like trashing the Stupak amendment to Obamacare.
But it’s nice to know that Boxer’s “friendship” and “collaboration” has extended to helping line Waters’ daughter’s pockets and facilitating Waters’ ethically dubious dealings, too.
One wonders what, if anything, Boxer will have to say about the mess in which Waters currently finds herself, given that that $25,000 payment would suggest she’s been aware of Waters’ ethically-challenged ways for about six years now.