Maxine’s Frank Talk

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The Office of Congressional Ethics has released its report detailing charges that Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California intervened on behalf of a bank in which her husband owned stock. We already knew that Waters was facing House ethics charges, the details of which were first made public in a March 2009 New York Times story. (Waters has released a statement today insisting there was “no improper action.”) Something that appears to be new in today’s official report is the notion that Waters knew and even admitted that her action might involve a conflict of interest. Here’s the key passage from the report:

Representative Waters told Representative A that she was in a predicament because her husband had been involved in the bank, but “One United people” were coming to her for help. According to Representative A, she knew she should say no, but it bothered her. It was clear to Representative A that this was a “conflict of interest problem.”

Representative A’s advice to Representative Waters was to “stay out if it” — OneUnited was a Boston bank and he had a commitment to minority banks. He would address the problem. Representative A then asked his staff to take over the OneUnited issue from Representative Waters.

Representative A had at least two conversations with Representative Waters in which he told her to not get involved in the OneUnited matter. The conversations likely occurred in September 2008, but he could not recall any specific dates.

The Times says it has confirmed the identity of Representative A, and that it’s a man known for speaking, well, frankly….