Ethics charges against Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., looking much worse and they were bad to begin with

Things looked pretty bad when Congresswoman Maxine Waters was caught helping arrange a taxpayer bailout for a bank where her husband was a former board member and had a significant financial interest in. The House Ethics Committee report on the matter was pretty damning. Today, the Washington Post has a lengthy and terrific piece of reportage that shows the circumstances of the OneUnited Bank bailout are even more suspicious than previously thought:

From the moment Boston-based OneUnited Bank began seeking a federal bailout in the summer of 2008, it received special treatment that went beyond what the Treasury Department or the bank and its political supporters have previously disclosed.

Congress adjusted the law and regulators broke with customary practices, despite an explicit internal warning that the bank was in financial trouble. Among other exceptions, the bank was allowed to count as part of its capital $12 million in federal bailout money – before the aid arrived.

OneUnited was the only bank to receive all of these considerations among the 707 recipients of money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, according to documents and interviews.

A close look at how OneUnited – which is now at the center of an ethics investigation involving Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) – won bailout money shows how the Treasury Department, federal regulators and another influential lawmaker helped it despite its record of bad investments and extravagant spending.

Read the whole thing. And in a related story, The Hill reports three Maxine Waters aides were kicked out of a speech by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for protesting the ethics charges against their boss:

Three staffers working for embattled Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) were asked by security officers to leave an event in downtown Washington on Thursday after they tried to display large campaign signs just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was about to speak.

The aides were holding lawn signs that defended Waters from the ethics charges she is facing in the House.

“Let’s fight for Maxine Waters,” read a headline on the signs above a large picture of the congresswoman. Smaller headings read: “No improper action. No benefit. No failure to disclose. No one influenced. No case!”

Well, that was probably awkward for the Democratic leadership. Making things even more interesting, Waters seems hell bent on maxing out the race card:

Waters told The Hill afterward that the staffers had been displaying the signs at the annual legislative conference for the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Foundation, which was held at the Washington Convention Center a few blocks away. “It ain’t about Nancy. It’s about black people,” Waters said. … “These signs will show up wherever large numbers of African-Americans gather,” Waters said.

Nothing projects an air of innocence quite like screaming “Racism!” while paying staff members to protest your own party’s leadership.

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