Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Audacity of Bravado

As a follow up to my post yesterday on Representative Maxine Waters, her  response to the Ethics Committee was strong -  "I have not violated any House rules. Therefore, I simply will not be forced to admit to something I did not do and instead have chosen to respond to charges made by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in a public hearing," Waters said in a lengthy written rebuttal to the OCE document. "Starting with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) report released today, the record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone. ... In sum, the case against me has no merit."

Waters portrays herself as the queen of the set-aside.  A good deal of what she has done in Congress and in the California legislature has been to create special categories for bidding for all sorts of government projects or business enterprises.  So, for example, she supported the creation of bidding categories in state bonds for minority and women owned firms.  Some would contend that enhances business.  But one could easily argue that such programs actually impede the advancement of the very people she wants to aid while gumming up the markets.   Smaller set aside firms are less efficient players in the market.  At the same time, by creating the category there is no incentive to advance talented minority and female professionals in the bigger firms.   But in Waters' mind that is OK, government is just a big slot machine to pay off her special people.  From my perspective, that in itself should be an ethics violation.

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