WASHINGTON, March 13 (UPI) -- Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said Friday that she was not at a meeting between Treasury officials and a bank with ties to her husband.
The New York Times reported that Waters helped arrange the meeting late last year and that Kevin Cohee, head of OneUnited, one of the largest black-owned banks in the country, asked for $50 million in federal bailout money. The bank eventually received $12 million from the Troubled Assets Relief Program.
Waters reacted with a statement saying that she did nothing improper, The Hill reported.
"Although both my supporters and detractors often refer to me as influential, the truth is that I had no influence on what Bush administration officials in the Treasury Department or other departments did," she said.
Treasury officials told the Times they did not know at the time of the meeting that Waters' husband, Sidney Williams, had been a director of OneUnited, one of the largest black-owned banks in the country. He resigned from the board early last year.
Waters sits on the House Financial Services Committee.
"Here you had a tiny community bank that comes in and they are not proposing a broader policy -- they were asking for help for themselves," said Steve Lineberry, a former Treasury aide who was at the meeting. "I don't remember that ever happening before."
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. cited the bank in October for "unsafe and unsound banking practices," including giving the chairman perks like a Porsche sport utility vehicle and maintenance of his California beach property.
OneUnited, headquartered in Boston, has branches in Miami and Los Angeles.
Cohee called Waters "an important advocate for minorities and minority issues."
"But we derived no benefit whatsoever from any activity related to her," he added.