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Maxine Waters

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Title: Maxine Waters  
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Subject: United States congressional delegations from California, United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2014, 112th United States Congress, 111th United States Congress, United States House of Representatives elections in California, 2012
Collection: 1938 Births, African-American Christians, African-American Members of the United States House of Representatives, African-American Women in Politics, American Protestants, American Schoolteachers, California Democrats, California State University, Los Angeles Alumni, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Living People, Members of the California State Assembly, Members of the United States House of Representatives from California, People from South Los Angeles, California, People from St. Louis, Missouri, Politicians from Los Angeles, California, Reparations for Slavery, South Los Angeles, Women in California Politics, Women State Legislators in California, Youth Rights People
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Maxine Waters

Maxine Waters
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 43rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Joe Baca
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 35th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Jerry Lewis
Succeeded by Gloria Negrete McLeod
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Augustus Hawkins
Succeeded by Henry Waxman
Personal details
Born Maxine Moore Carr
(1938-08-15) August 15, 1938
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Edward Waters (1956–1972)
Sid Williams (1977–present)
Children 2
Alma mater California State University, Los Angeles
Religion Nondenominational Christianity

Maxine Moore Waters (née Carr; born August 15, 1938) is the U.S. Representative for California's 43rd congressional district, and previously the 35th and 29th districts, serving since 1991. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She is the most senior of the 12 black women currently serving in the United States Congress, and is a member and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Before becoming a member of Congress she served in the California Assembly, to which she was first elected in 1976. As an Assembly member, Waters advocated for divestment from South Africa's apartheid regime. In Congress, she was an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War. Waters was charged, and exonerated, by the House's subcommittee on ethics with violations of the House's ethics rules in 2010.[1][2][3][4]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Early political career 2
  • U.S. House of Representatives 3
    • Elections 3.1
    • Tenure 3.2
    • Rodney King verdict and Los Angeles riots 3.3
    • Castro and Cuba 3.4
    • Racial politics 3.5
    • Government spending 3.6
    • Haiti 3.7
    • CIA 3.8
    • Iraq War 3.9
    • International lending 3.10
    • Mandatory minimum sentences 3.11
    • Criticism of the Tea Party Movement 3.12
    • Allegations of corruption 3.13
    • Committee assignments 3.14
    • Caucus memberships 3.15
  • Personal life 4
    • Other achievements 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Waters was born 1938 in Kinloch, Missouri to Remus and Velma Lee Carr (née Moore).[5][6] Fifth out of thirteen children, Waters was raised by her single mother once her father left the family when Maxine was two.[7] 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.[7] She later enrolled at Los Angeles State College (now California State University, Los Angeles) and graduated with a sociology degree in 1970.

Early political career

In 1973, she went to work as chief deputy to City Councilman David S. Cunningham, Jr.. Waters entered the California State Assembly in 1976. While in the assembly she worked for the divestment of state pension funds from any businesses active in South Africa, a country then operating under the policy of apartheid, and helped pass legislation within the guidelines of the divestment campaign's Sullivan Principles.[8] She ascended to the position of Democratic Caucus Chair for the Assembly.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives


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 consistently with at least 70% of the popular vote in the California's 35th congressional district after significant parts of the pre-1990 29th California Congressional District were folded into the newly defined 35th California Congressional District when California gained seven additional seats in the House following the 1990 United States Census.


Waters represented a large part of south-central Los Angeles and the Los Angeles coastal communities of Westchester and Playa Del Rey, and the cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lawndale.

On July 29, 1994, Waters was challenged for remarks made during the House Banking Committee’s Whitewater hearings denouncing Rep. Peter King, with whom she had argued the night before. She said, “Men and women, the day is over when men can badger and intimidate women!"[10][11]

Waters was chair of the Congressional Black Caucus from 1997 to 1998. In 2006 she was involved in the debate over King Drew Medical Center. She criticized media coverage of the hospital and in 2006 Waters asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny a waiver of the cross ownership ban, and hence license renewal for KTLA-TV, a station The Los Angeles Times owned. She said 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." She requested that the FCC force the paper to either sell its station or risk losing that station's broadcast rights.[12] According to Broadcasting & Cable, the challenges raised "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."[13] Waters' petition was ultimately unsuccessful.[14]

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."[15][16][17] Waters later switched her endorsement to Sen. Barack Obama when his lead in the pledged delegate count became insurmountable on the final day of primary voting.[18]

Waters had a confrontation over an earmark in the United States House Committee on Appropriations with fellow Democratic congressman Dave Obey in 2009. The funding request was for a public school employment training center in Los Angeles that was named after her.[19]

In 2011, Waters voted against the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 as part of a controversial provision that allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[20]

With the retirement of Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) in 2012, Waters became the ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee.[21][22]

On July 24, 2013, Waters voted in favor of Amendment 100 included in H.R. 2397 Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014.[23] The amendment targeted domestic surveillance activities, specifically that of the National Security Agency, and if ultimately passed would have limited the flexibility of the NSA's interpretation of the law to collect sweeping data on U.S. citizens.[24] Amendment 100 was rejected 217-205.

On March 27, 2014, Waters introduced a discussion draft of the Housing Opportunities Move the Economy Forward Act of 2014 known as the HOME Forward Act of 2014.[25] A key provision of the bill includes the collection of 10 basis points for “every dollar outstanding mortgages collateralizing covered securities” estimated to be approximately $5 billion a year. These funds would be directed to three funds that support affordable housing initiatives, with 75% going to the National Housing trust fund. The National Housing Trust Fund will then provide block grants to states to be used primarily to build, preserve, rehabilitate, and operate rental housing that is affordable to the lowest income households, and groups including seniors, disabled persons and low income workers. The National Housing Trust was enacted in 2008, but has yet to be funded.[26]

Rodney King verdict and Los Angeles riots

When south-central Los Angeles erupted in riots — in which 58 were killed — after the Rodney King verdict in 1992, Waters gained national attention "when she helped deliver relief supplies in Watts and demanded the resumption of vital services."[27][28] Waters described the riots as a rebellion, saying "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."[29] In her view, the violence was “a spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice.” In regards to the looting of Korean-owned stores by local black residents, she said: “There were mothers who took this as an opportunity to take some milk, to take some bread, to take some shoes ... They are not crooks.”[30]

Castro and Cuba

Waters has visited Cuba a number of times, praised Fidel Castro, and demanded an end to the U.S. trade embargo.[31] In 1998 Waters wrote a letter to Castro citing the 1960s and 1970s as “a sad and shameful chapter of our history,” and thanked Castro for providing help to those who needed to “flee political persecution.”[32]

In 1998, Waters wrote an open letter to Fidel Castro asking him not to extradite African-American activist Assata Shakur.[33][34]

After a woman drowned during an attempted escape from Cuba to the U.S. in 1999, leaving a six-year-old son, Elian Gonzales, who survived and requested asylum in the U.S., Waters called on President Bill Clinton to return him at once to Cuba.[32]

Racial politics

In 2001, Waters called Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan a "plantation owner." During the L.A. riots in 1992, Waters described the violence as a "spontaneous reaction to injustice." She held "economic, social, cultural, and political" factors responsible and that the riots should rightly be called a "rebellion" or "insurrection." [30]

Waters co-sponsored Rep. John Conyers' bill calling for reparations for slavery to be paid to black Americans.[35]

Government spending

In September 2011, Waters called for the implementation of a federal "jobs program of a trillion dollars or more." "We’ve got to put Americans to work", she said. "That's the only way to revitalize this economy. When people work they earn money, they spend that money, and that's what gets the economy up and going."


Waters opposed the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti and criticized U.S. involvement.[36] Following the coup, Waters led a delegation to the Central African Republic along with TransAfrica Forum founder Randall Robinson and Jamaican member of parliament Sharon Hay-Webster to meet with Aristide and bring him to Jamaica, where he would remain until May.[37][38][39]


Following a 1996 [40] The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had failed to find any evidence to support the original story.[41] The Los Angeles Times also concluded after its own extensive investigation that the allegations were not supported by evidence.[42] The author of the original story, Gary Webb, was eventually transferred to a different beat and removed from investigative reporting, before his death in 2004.[43] Mr Gary Webb was found in his apartment with two bullet holes in his head. His death was declared a suicide. 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.[44][45] Undeterred, Waters told the Los Angeles Times in 1997: "It doesn't matter whether the CIA delivered the kilo of cocaine themselves or turned their back on it to let somebody else do it. They're guilty just the same." The same CIA inspector general then released a second volume to this report, wherein his investigative team admitted that CIA assets traded in cocaine and crack, and that the CIA had pressured Department of Justice agencies (such as the DEA and FBI) to drop or suspend their own drug-related investigations of such assets.

Iraq War

Waters voted against the 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."[47] 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."[48] 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.[49]

International lending

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 died in committee.[50]

Mandatory minimum sentences

Waters opposes mandatory minimum sentences.[51]

Criticism of the Tea Party Movement

Waters has been very critical of the Tea Party movement. On August 20, 2011, while at a town hall discussing some of the displeasure that supporters of President Obama have had with the Congressional Black Caucus not supporting the president, Waters stated, "This is a tough game. You can’t be intimidated. You can’t be frightened. And as far as I’m concerned, the ‘tea party’ can go straight to Hell ... and I intend to help them get there."[52][53]

Allegations of corruption

According to Chuck Neubauer and Ted Rohrlich writing in the LA Times in 2004, Maxine Waters' relatives had made more than $1 million during the preceding eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters had helped. They claimed she and her husband helped a company get government bond business, and her daughter Karen Waters and son Edward Waters have profited from her connections. Waters replied that "They do their business and I do mine."[54]

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) named Waters to its list of corrupt members of Congress in its 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011 reports. She was accused of using her position to prevail upon officials to meet with OneUnited Bank without disclosing that she and her husband had significant stock holdings in the company.[55] Since she was on the Financial Services Committee she largely had the role of determining where TARP funds would go. 12 Million in TARP funds went to OneUnited without her ever disclosing that she had a financial stake at the company.[56][57][58][59] 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.[60]

In 2010, Waters came under investigation for ethics violations and was accused by a House panel of at least one ethics violation related to her efforts to help OneUnited Bank, where her husband had been a director and in which he had stock holdings, receive federal aid.[61] 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 received $12 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money.[62][63] The matter was investigated by the House Ethics Committee,[64][65] which charged her with violations of the House's ethics rules in 2010 [1][2][3][4] On September 21, 2012, The House Ethics Committee completed a report clearing Waters of all ethics charges after nearly three years of investigation.[66]

Committee assignments

Previously, she had served on the Committee on the Judiciary.

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Waters resides in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles, which is approximately six miles west of downtown. Her second husband, Sid Williams, played professional football in the NFL[67] and is a former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas under the Clinton Administration. In 1990, Waters, along with 15 other African American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom.[68]

Other achievements

  • 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
  • Co-Founder of Community Build
  • Received the Bruce F. Vento Award from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty for her work on behalf of homeless persons.
  • Most recent representative that has had the Mace of the United States House of Representatives brandished at them.


  1. ^ a b
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  3. ^ a b [1]
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  7. ^ a b
  8. ^
  9. ^ (Congresswoman's official web site)
  10. ^ Staff Mens News Daily [2] Rep. Maxine Waters Charged with Ethics Violations; Tuesday, August 3, 2010
  11. ^ Hawthorne, California; C-SPAN [3] What is the staff with an eagle on top they keep moving around in the House? What is it used for? 5/3/00 Archived May 9, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  27. ^ Louise Donahue Rep. Maxine Waters to speak at annual MLK Convocation on February 20 January 15, 2007 Currents (UC Santa Cruz)
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  30. ^ a b Aldore Collier, "Maxine Waters: Telling It Like It Is in L.A.," Ebony (October 1992), p. 38.
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  42. ^ CIA-Contra-Crack Cocaine Controversy
  43. ^ "Are You Sure You Want to Ruin Your Career?"
  44. ^
  45. ^ Casey
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  47. ^ [4]
  48. ^ [5]
  49. ^ Washington Times – Cheney ouster gains backers
  50. ^ (Gov Track)
  51. ^ Kenneth Meeks Back talk with Maxine Waters (Interview) Black Enterprise June 1, 2005
  52. ^
  53. ^
  54. ^ Chuck Neubauer and Ted Rohrlich CAPITALIZING ON CLOUT; Los Angeles Times. Capitalizing on a Politician's Clout; The husband, daughter and son of Rep. Maxine Waters have business links to people the influential lawmaker has aided. Dec 19, 2004. Retrieved August 18, 2010.
  55. ^
  56. ^
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  58. ^ CREW's Most Corrupt. "Maxine Waters (D-CA)." Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  59. ^ Maxine Waters: charges highlight mixed ethics record; California Rep. Maxine Waters, a powerful 'liberal institution' in Congress, has raised ethics eyebrows in the past. August 3, 2010 Christian Science Monitor
  60. ^
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External links

  • Los Angeles Times Interview: Maxine Waters by Robert Scheer, LA Times, May 16, 1993
  • Top Blacks — Maxine Waters: Distinguished Congresswoman 2001 profile
  • Maxine Waters speaks with Street Gangs Media by Alex Alonso,, January 18, 2003
  • Haiti regime neither able nor willing to hold fair election by Rep. Maxine Waters, October 19, 2005
  • Beyond DeLay — Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) criticism from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Augustus Hawkins
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 29th congressional district

Succeeded by
Henry Waxman
Preceded by
Jerry Lewis
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 35th congressional district

Succeeded by
Gloria Negrete McLeod
Preceded by
Joe Baca
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 43rd congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Collin Peterson
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Sam Johnson
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