Beyond DeLay: Report Summaries
* Executive Summary of the Report
* Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
* Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA)
* Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL)
* Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)
* Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
* Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH)
* Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA)
* Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
* Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC)
* Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
* Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT)
* Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN)
* Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991, representing the 35th district of California. Her ethical problems arise from her exercise of this power to financially benefit her daughter, husband and son.
Rep. Waters' daughter, Karen Waters, has benefitted primarily through charging for spots on her mothers' "slate mailers" issued by L.A. Vote, a non-profit, political organization that sends sample ballots to South Los Angeles residents featuring the photo of Rep. Waters and the names of candidates she supports. Charges for a spot on the ballot have ranged widely from $171,000 for an affluent, California businessman running for elected office, to tens of thousands of dollars for candidates such as former Gov. Gray Davis, to $250 for a school board candidate. Of the $1.7 million collected by L.A. Vote over the last eight years, mainly from candidates who have paid to have their names appear on slate mailers, approximately $450,000 has gone to Karen Waters and her consulting firm, Progressive Connections, and $115,000 to Rep. Waters' son, Edward.
Karen Waters also has collected $20,000 from a small, nonprofit organization called African American Committee 2000 & Beyond that she established with her mother. Many corporations and organizations seeking to win Rep. Waters' favor have donated to African American Committee 2000 & Beyond. The nonprofit in turn has used this money to pay for parties hosted by Rep. Waters at the Democratic national conventions.
Rep. Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, has benefitted financially from his wife's political clout by working as a part-time consultant for a bond underwriting firm seeking government investment, Siebert, Brandford, & Shank. Despite his lack of experience in the bond business, he was hired as a consultant for the company. As a consultant, Mr. Williams has collected close to $500,000 by making valuable introductions for Siebert to politicians who have received his wife's support. For example, when school board members in Inglewood, a city in Rep. Waters' congressional district to which she guaranteed a $10 million loan from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, needed a bond underwriting firm to handle a $40 million school bond sale, they chose Siebert. Mr. Williams earned $54,000 in commission from the deal.
Rep. Waters' son Edward, together with her husband Sidney Williams, also benefitted from her political connections when they won a 20-year lease to run the county-owned Chester Washington Golf Course in South Los Angeles. The key decision-maker for the deal was County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, in whose district the golf course was located. Rep. Waters handed the County Supervisor a victory just several months earlier when she endorsed Ms. Burke in a close election. Financial records indicate that Mr. Williams and Mr. Waters earned between $140,000 and $400,000 through the golf venture.
In addition, both of Rep. Waters' children have collected money working as paid consultants for politicians and interests endorsed by their mother.
Rule 23 of the House Ethics Manual requires all members of the House to conduct themselves "at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House." When this section was first adopted, the Select Committee on Standards of Official Conduct of the 90th Congress noted that it was included within the Code to deal with "flagrant"' violations of the law that reflect on "Congress as a whole,"' and that might otherwise go unpunished.
Rep. Waters' use of her name and powerful connections to benefit her family members financially in a variety of schemes does not reflect creditably on her position as a House member and warrants investigation by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
Another "fundamental rule of ethics" for Members of the House is that they are prohibited from taking any official actions for the prospect of personal gain for themselves or anyone else, including relatives.
With Rep. Waters' assistance, her family members have used her name and connections to make lucrative commercial deals from which they have reaped personal financial gain. By allowing the use of her name and authority associated with her position as a member of the House in this manner, Rep. Waters has run afoul of 5 CFR §sect;2635.702(a). The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct should investigate Rep. Waters' connections with L.A. Vote, the African American Committee 2000, the firm of Siebert, Brandford and Shank, and the Chester Washington Golf Course.