Congresswoman Waters defends actions on behalf of bank

Is it a case of political influence for financial gain? Or is it just a lawmaker fighting for minority-owned banks? KPCC’s Washington Correspondent Kitty Felde says L.A. Congresswoman Maxine Waters has come out swinging.

Kitty Felde: Recent stories in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal say Congresswoman Waters pulled strings to set up a meeting last September between Treasury officials and black-owned banks.

Waters has sent out an e-mail that says she did exactly that. She says she’s been “an outspoken advocate” for minority business, and wanted to make sure minority-owned banks could participate in the multi-billion-dollar Troubled Assets Relief Program.

At that Treasury meeting, Boston-based OneUnited asked for $50 million in bailout money. Waters and her husband have owned at least a quarter of a million dollars in stock in OneUnited. Her husband served on its board. Treasury officials say the congresswoman did not disclose her financial link to the bank.

But in her e-mail, Waters says her ties to OneUnited are “fully disclosed” in “official filings.” And she notes she did not attend the meeting between the banks and the Treasury officials.

Note: Congresswoman Waters will be in her South L.A. district tomorrow (Saturday 3/14) to talk about the economic stimulus package. She’ll speak at the Inglewood Public Library at 10:00 a.m., and at Southwest College at 1:00 p.m.