Watchdog organization names the local representative among
20 in Congress who have allegedly used their offices for
WASHINGTON -- A watchdog group cited South Bay Rep. Maxine
Waters as among the 20 most "corrupt members" of Congress in
a report released Wednesday that details what it terms
"egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities" among
House and Senate members.
The group, Citizens for
Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said Waters, an
eight-term Democrat representing 35th District communities
stretching from Westchester to Gardena, exercised power in
Congress "to financially benefit her daughter, husband and
"Rep. Waters' family members have used her name and
connections to make lucrative commercial deals from which
they have reaped personal financial gain in violation of
House rules," CREW said.
The group largely cited press reports to make its case.
Waters declined to comment.
Waters' daughter, Karen Waters, received hundreds of
thousands of dollars by charging for spots on slate mailers
issued by a nonprofit organization that sends sample ballots
to voters, according to CREW. Meanwhile, Waters' husband,
Sidney Williams, also earned hundreds of thousands of
dollars by working as a consultant for a bond underwriting
firm that seeks government investment, CREW said.
Waters' son, Edward, also benefited from her political
connections involving a county lease to run a golf course in
South Los Angeles, according to CREW.
Other California lawmakers cited by CREW include Rep. Ken
Calvert, R-Riverside; Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville; Rep.
Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands; Rep. Gary Miller, R-Diamond Bar;
and Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. CREW raised questions about
their political fundraising practices and business dealings,
some involving family members.
Lewis and Calvert have helped pass earmarks sought by a
lobbying firm, Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton and White,
that netted more than $91 million in earmarks in 2005,
according to CREW. Lewis has close ties to some of the
firm's lobbyists, including former San Diego Rep. Bill
Last year, former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Rancho
Santa Fe, made CREW's "most corrupt" list. He is now serving
an eight-year prison term for bribery-related charges, after
admitting to taking cash and gifts totaling $2.4 million
from defense contractors in return for helping to steer
government work to them.
CREW has prepared complaints for the House Ethics
Committee against at least a dozen lawmakers, said Naomi
Seligman Steiner, deputy director of CREW.
But the committee only permits complaints to be filed by
other members of Congress. And Steiner said CREW can't find
a representative willing to take the complaints to the
"Congress persists in abdicating its constitutional
responsibility to police itself, opting to ignore the
ethical and legal transgressions of its members," said
Melanie Sloan, the CREW director. "Luckily for the public,
at least the Department of Justice still believes that
political corruption is worth pursuing."
Sloan referred to an August 2006 Harris poll that shows
77 percent of Americans have a negative view of Congress and
a May 2006 Gallup poll that indicates 83 percent of
Americans consider corruption a serious issue.