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Embattled Rep. Maxine Waters on Friday blamed the Bush administration for her ethics problems -- saying she had to intervene with the Treasury Department on behalf of minority-owned banks seeking federal bailout funds -- including one tied to her husband -- because the Treasury Department wouldn't schedule its own appointments.
But the House ethics committee, which is investigating Waters for allegedly improperly using her position for personal gain, says in its report of charges that when the meeting was held, the officers of only one bank came -- OneUnited.
That's a problem for Waters since her husband, Sidney Williams, served as a member of OneUnited's board of directors from January 2004 until April 2008, and was a stockholder in the bank.
As chairman and chief executive of OneUnited Bank, Kevin L. Cohee has sought to build a company that is about more than just money. He promoted the bank, now at the center of a House ethics case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), as a uniquely responsible investor in impoverished minority communities and urged prospective clients to live modestly.
Customers ought to focus on "real connections, real relationships," Cohee urges in a recording on the bank's Web site. Avoid "people who want to be with you based on the things that you have."
"Do you really need a Mercedes-Benz?" he asks. "Houses don't make you, cars don't make you."
Cohee, 52, took a somewhat different view in his own life. His bank bought or leased luxury real estate he used and, until federal regulators complained in 2008, paid for his Porsche. Cohee's East Coast spread was an $880,000 condominium on Miami Beach's Ocean Drive, and out west the bank leased a $26,500-a-month mansion for him on Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica, Calif., owned by Bruce Springsteen's drummer, Max Weinberg.
A battle of lawsuits over the house -- Cohee complained that he had to ship in "a huge bar, a desk, a chandelier," and Weinberg accused him of installing secret surveillance cameras in the master bedroom -- led Cohee and his wife, through a corporation they formed, to buy the house for $6.4 million in late 2006. OneUnited then provided him a living allowance at the mansion, where, a year later, he was twice arrested, on sexual assault and drug charges.
It was the bank's assistance with his expenses that helped provoke a cease-and-desist order from the federal government, accusing the bank and its officers of misspending and lax lending, and putting its operating license at risk.
That order landed in the fall of 2008, in the same period that Cohee and his colleagues at the bank were in contact with Waters and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to secure tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep it afloat. About $51 million of the bank's stock in federally chartered lending agencies had become virtually worthless, leaving it with a shortage of capital.
OneUnited's loss was also a loss for Waters's husband, Sidney Williams, a former member of the bank's board whose stock in it had plummeted in value from about $350,000 to $170,000. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, the couple had earned a total of more than $35,000 in dividends from Williams's OneUnited stock. Cohee and other bank officers had also contributed at least $11,000 to her campaign and organized a fundraiser for her at one of his homes.
Originally posted by centurion1211
Maybe we can extend our consensus further?