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To Be Equal

By Marc H. Morial | November 1, 2012

Maxine Waters Set to Become Financial ServicesRanking Member – “I will continue to champion practical regulations, while making sure theywork for consumers and the financial sector, a sector which has the right to beprofitable but the obligation to be fair, two concepts which are not mutuallyexclusive.” Representative Maxine Waters It is alwaysbig news whenever ethics charges are brought against a Member of Congress.Convictions, though rare, also make headlines. We understand that bad newssells. But we also think it is a big deal when a respected Member of Congressis completely exonerated of ethics charges — especially when that Member issomeone as powerful and effective as California Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Incase you missed it, in September, after a three-year investigation,Representative Waters, a 21-year veteran of the House and a senior member ofthe House Financial Services Committee, was cleared of all charges related toher role in assisting minority-owned banks get bail-out help through thegovernment’s Troubled Asset Relief Program . {{more}}While her husband ownedstock in one of those banks, the investigation found that the help that bankreceived was the result of a request she made on behalf of all minority banks.House Ethics Committee Special Counsel, Billy Martin concluded, “The evidencein the record does not support a knowing violation of ethics rules or anystandard of conduct with respect to Rep. Maxine Waters.” Since her initial1991 election to the House, Representative Waters has been a staunch advocatefor middle and working class families and has fought hard for minorityinclusion in the financial services industry. In fact, she wrote thelegislation creating the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion as part of theDodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank puts inplace the most comprehensive financial regulatory reform measures since theGreat Depression and is intended to prevent a repeat of the reckless WallStreet behavior that caused the financial crisis of 2008. In her role as asenior member of the Financial Services Committee, Rep. Waters played a keyrole in shaping that legislation and was successful in including provisionsspecifically designed to protect low-income and minority citizens. Because ofher, there is now an Office of Minority and Women at each of the federalregulatory agencies such as the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, theFederal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and others. These Offices will work toreverse years of underrepresentation and ensure the gender, racial and ethnicdiversity of the workforce and senior management, as well as increasecontracting opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. RepresentativeWaters also fought to ensure that in winding down struggling financialinstitutions, regulators considered the impact on low-income, minority, andunderserved communities where access to mainstream banking is a problem. And tohelp stem the tide of housing foreclosures, she secured $1 billion – with anadditional $1 billion commitment from the Treasury Department – to helpunemployed homeowners receive low-interest loans to pay their mortgages.As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representative Waters hasalso traveled the country to shine a spotlight on the problem of urbanunemployment and has worked with Congressional Members of both parties to passcritical jobs legislation. With the retirement of Barney Frank, Congresswoman Watersis in line to be the ranking Democrat on the House Financial ServicesCommittee. We applaud her leadership and are pleased that her Ethics Committeeexoneration removes any obstacle to her ascendency.

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