About her advocacy of African American owned OneUnited Bank
By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
Answering her critics in a carefully worded three page letter, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-35) fired back this week at published newspaper reports that questioned her efforts to lend support to minority and community banks.
"I have been an outspoken advocate for minority communities and business in California and nationally for decades," she asserted in her statement.
"Recent press reports have raised questions about my advocacy on behalf minority banks. Ultimately, however, these articles only revealed one thing: I am indeed an advocate for minority banks."
Recent newspaper articles erroneously reported that Waters had acted inappropriately when she arranged a meeting between banking officials from One United Bank and others minority owned financial institutions with the Treasury representatives in December 2009.
However it was a leading trade organization, which represents OneUnited and others that directly contacted the Treasury.
OneUnited Bank, a Black owned and operated institution received $12 million in bailout funds, but other institutions also received bailout funds during the Bush administration.
Waters' husband Sidney Williams sits on the board of OneUnited and held a half million dollars in assets in the bank in 2007, according to the published article.
"My husband Ambassador Sidney Williams, who has represented the United States as an Ambassador and has been a respected and active member of the Los Angeles Community for many years, was asked to sit on the board of OneUnited Bank. This bank services our community and was the successor to the bank of which we had been customers at for many years. He accepted the position and did not accept any director's compensation for his work on behalf of the bank and the community it serves," waters responded.
"Despite my public consistent advocacy, news reports suggest that somehow I have acted improperly."
Thus Waters set the record straight:
"The National Bankers Association (NBA), the leading trade organization which represents the interest of America's minority-owned banks, requested a meeting with Treasure Department officials last year as the financial crisis was unfolding, jeopardizing the health of banks large and small," she wrote.
"It is important to clarify that this meeting was requested and scheduled on behalf of the NBA, not on behalf of OneUnited Bank as press repots suggest."
An attached letter from the NBA concluded that the intent of the meeting was the dire concern expressed by the association on behalf of its members, and that the NBA contacted the Treasury directly just as other trade associations did on behalf of its members of which OneUnited Bank is one of them.
"I did not attend the meeting, and thus did not participate in the conversation. Press reports of the meeting focus on concerns expressed by a single bank. However, NBA's follow up letter to Treasury reiterates the organization's concerns about the fiscal health of its members generally."
Waters accused newspapers reports of perpetuating a misconception about the way in which the funds from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) are distributed to banks requesting assistance.
She concluded that, "I maintain that my advocacy on behalf of small, women, minority and community banks is appropriate. I will continue to bank and do business with minority depository institutions and work on behalf of my constituents, and institutions that serve them."