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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who is Maxine Moore Carr?

Who is Maxine Moore Carr? The political world knows her as Maxine Waters. Waters is a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1991, representing California's 35th congressional district (map). She resides in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, which is approximately six miles west of downtown. She is the most senior of the 12 African American women currently serving in the United States Congress. She is currently under investigation for ethics violations and awaits charges from the House Ethics Committee.
Her husband, Sidney Williams played professional football in the NFL and is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas.


One of thirteen children, Waters was born ; August 15, 1938 in St. Louis, Missouri, to Remus and Velma Lee Carr Moore. She graduated from Vashon High School in St. Louis, and moved with her family to Los Angeles, California, in 1961. She worked in a garment factory and as a telephone operator before being hired as an assistant teacher with the Head Start program at Watts in 1966.
She later enrolled at Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles), and graduated with a sociology degree in 1970. In 1973, she went to work as chief deputy to newly-elected City Councilman David S. Cunningham, Jr..

Political career

Waters entered the California State Assembly in 1976. While in the assembly she worked for divestment of state pension funds from any businesses active in South Africa, a country then operating under the policy of apartheid. Waters ultimately helped frame successful legislation within the guidelines of the divestment campaign's Sullivan Principles. Waters eventually ascended to the position of Democratic Caucus Chair for the Assembly.
Upon the retirement of Augustus F. Hawkins in 1990, Waters was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for California's 29th congressional district with over 79% of the popular vote; she has been re-elected each time (now in the California's 35th congressional district), with at least 70% of the popular vote. (Significant parts of the pre-1990 29th California Congressional District were folded into the newly defined 35th California Congressional District after California gained seven additional seats in the House following the 1990 United States Census.)
Following a 1996 San Jose Mercury article alleging the complicity of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Los Angeles crack epidemic of the 1980s, Waters called for an investigation into the matter. In her request, Waters asked whether "U.S.-government paid or organized operatives smuggled, transported and sold it to American citizens." The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had failed to find any evidence to support the original story. The Los Angeles Times also concluded after its own extensive investigation that the allegations were not supported by evidence. The author of the original story was eventually transferred to a different beat and removed from investigative reporting. Following these post-publication investigations, Waters read into the Congressional Record a memorandum of understanding in which former President Ronald Reagan's CIA director rejected any duty by the CIA to report illegal narcotics trafficking to the Department of Justice.
As a Democratic representative in Congress, Waters was a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. She endorsed Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton for the party's nomination in late January 2008, granting the New York Senator nationally-recognized support that some suggested would "make big waves." Subsequently, however, Waters switched her endorsement to Sen. Barack Obama, by then insurmountably ahead in the pledged delegate count, on the final day of primary voting.

Policy positions

 Iraq War

Waters voted against the Iraq War Resolution, the 2002 resolution that funded and granted Congressional approval to possible military action against the regime of Saddam Hussein.  She has remained a consistent critic of the subsequent war and has supported an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq. Waters asserted in 2007 that President George W. Bush was trying to "set [Congress] up" by continually requesting funds for an "occupation" that is "draining" the country of capital, soldier's lives, and other resources. In particular, she argued that the very economic resources being "wasted" in Iraq were those that might provide universal health care or fully fund President Bush's own "No Child Left Behind" education bill. Additionally, Waters, representing a congressional district whose median income falls far below the national average, argued that patriotism alone had not been the sole driving force for those U.S. service personnel serving in Iraq. Rather, "many of them needed jobs, they needed resources, they needed money, so they're there." In a subsequent floor speech, Waters told her colleagues that Congress, lacking the votes to override the "inevitable Bush veto on any Iraq-related legislation," needed to "better [challenge] the administration's false rhetoric about the Iraq war" and "educate our constituents [about] the connection between the problems in Pakistan, Turkey, and Iran with the problems we have created in Iraq." A few months prior to these speeches Waters became a cosponsor of the House resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for making allegedly "false statements" about the war.

 Nationalizing the United States' petroleum industry

In May 2008, Waters told Shell Oil Company president John Hofmeister at the House Judiciary Committee's Task Force on Competition Policy and Antitrust law that if he did not guarantee reduced gasoline prices in exchange for reduction by Congress of oil drilling restrictions, she would favor nationalization of the American petroleum industry. She misspoke in a widely reported gaffe: "And guess what this liberal will be all about? This liberal will be all about socializing, uh, um...would be about, basically, taking over and the government running all of your companies."

The Stop VULTURE Funds Act

In August 2008, Waters introduced HR 6796, or the "Stop Very Unscrupulous Loan Transfers from Underprivileged countries from Rich Exploitive Funds Act," also known as the Stop VULTURE Funds Act. This would limit the ability of investors in sovereign debt to use U.S. courts to enforce those instruments against a defaulting country. The bill, which died in committee, was evidently inspired by litigation in the late 1990s and early years of the new century brought by Elliot Associates against the Republic of Peru.

 Hot debates

 CREW "Most Corrupt" list

In its 2009 report, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Waters one of the 15 most corrupt members of Congress. She was also included in their 2005 and 2006 reports.

 Presentation of the Mace

On July 29, 1994 Waters was challenged for making inappropriate remarks during a one-minute speech. She then ignored the Chair’s request to suspend speaking until the point of order was settled. Rep. Robert Walker (R-PA) rose and called out "get the Mace," to restore order. The Chair kept pounding the gavel and finally stated, "the Chair is about to direct the Sgt-at-Arms to present the Mace!" Waters then suspended, and the Chair was able to rule on the point of order without having to resort to the Mace.

 Opposed KTLA license renewal

After the Los Angeles Times published allegations of nepotism against her and an expose of the King Drew Medical Center, Waters asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny a waiver of the crossownership ban, and hence license renewal, for KTLA-TV, a station the newspaper owned. Claiming that "The Los Angeles Times has had an inordinate effect on public opinion and has used it to harm the local community in specific instances," Waters requested that the FCC force the paper to either sell its station or risk losing that station's broadcast rights. Such challenges, according to Broadcasting & Cable, "raise the specter of costly legal battles to defend station holdings.... At a minimum, defending against one would cost tens of thousands of dollars in lawyers' fees and probably delay license renewal about three months." Waters' petition was ultimately unsuccessful; the station's license next expires in 2014.

 Los Angeles riots of 1992

During the Los Angeles riots of 1992, Waters said "If you call it a riot it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason. I maintain it was somewhat understandable, if not acceptable. So I call it a rebellion."

 Relatives' business interests

In December 2004 Los Angeles Times showed that Maxine Water's relatives had made more than $1 million during the preceding eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters had helped. Her reply was: "They do their business and I do mine."

 Involvement with OneUnited Bank

Waters' husband is a stockholder and former director of OneUnited Bank, and the bank's executives were major contributors to her campaigns. In September 2008, Waters arranged meetings between U.S. Treasury Department officials and OneUnited Bank, so that the bank could plead for federal cash. It had been heavily invested in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and its capital was "all but wiped out" after the U.S. government took them over. The bank did secure $12 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money. The matter is currently being investigated by the House Ethics Committee

 Confrontation with Dave Obey

On June 25, 2009, Waters got into a fight on the House floor with fellow Democratic Congressman and Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey of Wisconsin. After the House floor had largely cleared following a series of votes, Waters and Obey split apart from a heated conversation about an earmark requested by Waters for a public school employment training center in Los Angeles that was named after herself. Obey rejected the earmark as violating policies against so-called "monuments to me." Waters revised her request to go to the school district's whole adult employment training program, so the district could decide whether the money would go to the school named after herself. Nonetheless, Obey let it be known that the earmark would be denied. She approached him and complained, shouting, "You’re out of line!" while walking down toward the well in the House chambers. Obey shouted back, "You’re out of line!" before turning and walking away, but stopped, turned back toward Waters, and shouted, "I'm not going to approve that earmark!" He again turned away while Waters huddled with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and was overheard saying, "He touched me first." before being escorted into the cloakroom. Obey went to talk with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer when Waters briefly returned again, telling her colleagues, "He touched me." before returning to the cloakroom. An aide to Waters said that Obey had pushed her while Obey's spokesperson, Ellis Brachman, placed the blame on Waters for escalating the situation.

   Alleged gaffes

On February 24, 2010, in congressional hearings with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Waters, despite serving on the Financial Services Committee, revealed she is completely unaware of the difference between the Federal Reserve 'discount rate' and 'federal funds rate'.


Citizens Against Government Waste named her the June 2009 Porker of the Month due to her intention to obtain an earmark for the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center.

     Committee assignments

      Caucus memberships

      Other accomplishments

  • Maxine Waters Preparation Center in Watts, California – named after her while she was a member of the California Assembly
  • Co-founder of Black Women’s Forum
  • Founder of Project Build
  • Received the Bruce F. Vento Award from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty for her work on behalf of homeless persons.

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