« | »

Waters Banker Pal Has ‘Checkered Record’

Some actual journalism from the Washington Post:

Cohee at OneUnited, bank in Maxine Waters case, has checkered record

By R. Jeffrey Smith
Thursday, August 12, 2010; A01

As chairman and chief executive of OneUnited Bank, Kevin L. Cohee has sought to build a company that is about more than just money. He promoted the bank, now at the center of a House ethics case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), as a uniquely responsible investor in impoverished minority communities and urged prospective clients to live modestly.

Customers ought to focus on "real connections, real relationships," Cohee urges in a recording on the bank’s Web site. Avoid "people who want to be with you based on the things that you have."

"Do you really need a Mercedes-Benz?" he asks. "Houses don’t make you, cars don’t make you."

Cohee, 52, took a somewhat different view in his own life. His bank bought or leased luxury real estate he used and, until federal regulators complained in 2008, paid for his Porsche. Cohee’s East Coast spread was an $880,000 condominium on Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive, and out west the bank leased a $26,500-a-month mansion for him on Palisades Beach Road in Santa Monica, Calif., owned by Bruce Springsteen’s drummer, Max Weinberg.

A battle of lawsuits over the house — Cohee complained that he had to ship in "a huge bar, a desk, a chandelier," and Weinberg accused him of installing secret surveillance cameras in the master bedroom — led Cohee and his wife, through a corporation they formed, to buy the house for $6.4 million in late 2006. OneUnited then provided him a living allowance at the mansion, where, a year later, he was twice arrested, on sexual assault and drug charges.

Mr. Cohee sounds like a typical, staid banker to us. Mind you, this is what the Post calls a “checkered record.”

It was the bank’s assistance with his expenses that helped provoke a cease-and-desist order from the federal government, accusing the bank and its officers of misspending and lax lending, and putting its operating license at risk.

That order landed in the fall of 2008, in the same period that Cohee and his colleagues at the bank were in contact with Waters and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to secure tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to keep it afloat. About $51 million of the bank’s stock in federally chartered lending agencies had become virtually worthless, leaving it with a shortage of capital.

And, to be fair, we have to remember that Mr. Frank now claims that he was pushing for a taxpayer bailout of OneUnited for another crooked Democrat — and not Maxine Waters.

OneUnited’s loss was also a loss for Waters’s husband, Sidney Williams, a former member of the bank’s board whose stock in it had plummeted in value from about $350,000 to $170,000. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, the couple had earned a total of more than $35,000 in dividends from Williams’s OneUnited stock. Cohee and other bank officers had also contributed at least $11,000 to her campaign and organized a fundraiser for her at one of his homes.

What conflict of interest?

In December 2008, after Frank inserted language in legislation he said was meant to benefit OneUnited and similar banks, the bank received a $12 million grant from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), created to encourage lending by healthy, viable banks

Also, these were supposed to be banks that were too big to fail. OneUnited was the smallest and weakest bank to receive TARP money. Notice, by the way, that Mr. Frank still have not be charged with anything.

Waters’s decision to arrange a September meeting, requested by Cohee, with Treasury Department officials at which the bank appealed for federal money is at the heart of allegations that she violated House rules, a charge she vehemently denies.

Waters acknowledges setting up the meeting with Cohee, who is African American, but says it was on behalf of minority-owned banks in general.

If this doesn’t violate House ethics rules, then there are no House ethics rules.

A review of public records and statements shows that it was not the first time the congresswoman had interceded with government officials in a way that helped Cohee and his fellow bank owners while her husband had financial ties to his bank.

In 2002, Waters wrote a letter with others to the governor of California in an attempt to block the sale of a black-owned bank in her district to a white-owned bank in Illinois, an action that helped pave the way for Cohee’s bank — then named the Boston Bank of Commerce — to acquire it instead. "We want to keep the ownership. That way, we’ll know that the bank won’t be closed or merged into a bigger institution," Waters told the Los Angeles Times in February of that year.

At the time, Waters was the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions, and her husband had a checking account valued at $250,000 to $500,000 in Cohee’s bank, as well as a home mortgage and a line of credit. Her financial disclosure for 2001 does not list income from the account — because of a clerical error, an aide said — and her 2002 statement lists unspecified interest income. Such a large account would be partly at risk only if Cohee’s bank failed.

When Cohee and his co-investors bought the bank in August 2002, Waters told the American Banker newspaper that it was "a giant step forward for minority banks everywhere."

And a “giant step forward” for Mr. and Mrs. Waters.

Waters has described herself as a "professional and social" friend of Cohee’s, though at the time he sought her assistance in 2008 she apparently had no idea that his personal life was troubled or that he had a record of adverse court cases related to his finances.

Never mind that her husband was a member of the bank’s board and presumably would be apprised of such things.

In 1991, for example, a judge in New Jersey approved a $1.8 million payment to his co-investors in a credit card company Cohee controlled, settling a breach-of-contract lawsuit they had filed. In 1992, seven years after he graduated from Harvard, a court in New York entered a $23,493 judgment against him, according to public records that list Cohee as a debtor and the university as a creditor. Harvard’s public relations office said it could not find records explaining its litigation.

If Mr. Cohee graduated from Harvard, how could he be guilty of any wrong doing?

Weeks before his meeting with Treasury officials in 2008, Cohee was also dealing with the consequences of the arrests at the Santa Monica mansion, according to police and court records obtained by The Washington Post. The first arrest, on April 22, 2007, occurred after a woman who was not his wife fled the mansion and drove to a police station to lodge a complaint of violent sexual assault.

The second arrest, on May 15, 2007, involved 17 police officers and resulted from drugs found during the execution of a search warrant "in regards to a sodomy investigation," according to a police report. When they reached the second floor of the house and asked Cohee to come out of the bedroom with his hands up, the door was instead pushed shut. Police kicked it open and found a woman, as well as cocaine and a black tar-like substance in a desk drawer, the report states. It was later determined to be concentrated cannabis, according to court records

Sounds like ‘the bitch set him up.’

Prosecutors did not pursue the assault charge, but Superior Court Judge James R. Dabney declined to grant a motion by Cohee to dismiss the drug charges. He agreed instead to drop them after Cohee completed 12 meetings of Narcotics Anonymous, a typical outcome in California for a first-time charge of drug possession, Dabney said in a telephone interview. He said he was unaware at the time that Cohee was a bank chief executive and a lawyer. "I would have remembered that," he said.

Cohee never mentioned the arrest or treatment program to Waters, according to her chief of staff, Mikael Moore, who is also her grandson.

And we believe him. After all, why would he lie?

In a brief interview on his cellphone Tuesday, Cohee denied that he had been arrested in California. "You clearly have me confused with someone," he said before ending the call.

But the Social Security number and birthday in public data connected to his home address in Boston match the Social Security number in California police records of Kevin Lafate Cohee’s arrests. The arrest occurred at a residence leased by the bank and then purchased by a limited liability corporation controlled by Cohee and his wife. And one of the police reports lists Cohee’s home town of Kansas City, Mo., and the same cellphone number Cohee answered on Tuesday…

Nitpickers. The Post is sounding more and more racist, here.

Days after hearing Cohee’s appeal for help at her House office in late August 2008, Waters dialed Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. She told him that "some people" she considered important needed to meet with his top aides, who were overwhelmed by the distractions of a crumbling national economy. "You don’t use your chits for nothing, you call when there is an important issue," Waters explained later.

No chit.

More than a dozen top Treasury officials attended the nearly hour-long meeting on Sept. 10. Waters has said she was only trying to help the National Bankers Association, a trade group of banks owned by minorities and women. But five members of the board of the Office of Congressional Ethics — a group of mostly former congressmen — said in their 107-page report this month that this contention is implausible, partly because no other member of the association was invited.

Treasury’s response was that it had no legal authority to give OneUnited the $50 million that House investigators said Cooper and Cohee requested at the meeting. Nevertheless, Moore later sent an e-mail to Frank’s staff warning that OneUnited was in trouble. Moore also exchanged e-mails with Cohee containing draft Treasury language for legislation granting the department authority to help all banks, he said.

The TARP bill that President George W. Bush signed on Oct. 3, 2008, included the provision Frank inserted into the bill to help OneUnited and other minority-owned banks harmed by the stock devaluation at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "We were very clear we wanted them to be eligible," Frank said in an interview, speaking about OneUnited. But he said that it was up to regulators to decide whether to give the money…

The Treasury Department has said that its grant, the first given to a minority-owned bank under the Troubled Assets Relief Program, was based on sound, normal criteria. But at the time, OneUnited had a uniquely poor ratio of loans to debts, according to data compiled by American University researchers who combed through records of all 987 banks that received TARP money between October 2008 and October 2009…

Which we posted here.

Treasury Department e-mails about OneUnited make clear that officials there were convinced in any case that Waters and Frank were "interested" in assisting the bank, as one wrote to a colleague. After the bank was told that the money was coming, Waters and Frank told Paulson in a letter that "we applaud the recent decision" to help minority-owned banks "on advantaged terms."

Again, why is there no investigation of Mr. Frank, who has admitted that he was acting at the behest of another Democrat with a criminal background.

In any case, the article mentions Mr. Cohee’s contributions to Ms. Waters. But according to the FEC’s contribution search engine, he has been quite generous to some highly influential Democrats, as well:

Contributions to Political Committees


    12/17/2002     1000.00     23990266758
    12/16/2003     1000.00     24990244149
    12/16/2003     1000.00     24990244149


    12/03/1998     500.00     99020031248
    12/18/1998     500.00     99020031248


    08/25/2005     1000.00     25971183185


    12/06/2005     1000.00     26020063027


    09/30/2004     500.00     24020791791


    VIA GORE 2000 INC
    05/15/2000     500.00     20990156630


    10/14/1999     1000.00     20990027752

Mr. Cohee obviously knew which side of the bread his butter was on.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, August 12th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Waters Banker Pal Has ‘Checkered Record’”

  1. wardmama4 says:

    After reading this – I find the following nigh on impossible to comprehend:
    1) how understatingly hypocritical it is for someone who is in a position to supposedly ‘help impoverished minorities’ to live like that – while exhorting the people coming hat in hand to his bank to live modestly and how people still fail to see that a) this is why our deficit and National debt is so sky high and b) how for the DNC who masquerades on being there ‘for the little people’ are not just hypocritical but outright liars – How many loans could those mansions and Porsche have been to someone who simply needed a roof over their head or a car to go to work?
    2) how corrupt (how about a $200. limit on all donations from people and oh yes no ‘corporate,’ Union, lobbyist and foreign donations ever)campaign donations are still (even after McAmnesty?Findthegold Reform bill) – get this whole campaign thing back to the realm of reality and Public Service – and how no one can see that this is just money shifting back and forth until it reaches the point – No one knows where the heck it came from or ended up – isn’t that called – money laundering?
    3) Term Limit from every Public Office in every town up to the Congress – 2 Terms in any one Office – Maybe a max of 4 Offices.
    4) Repeal the 16th Amendment – let the States send money to DC – it is easier for We The People to control and keep track of State crapweasels than DC crapweasels
    5) Push for a 28th Amendment – what ever legislation Congress passes they are not exempt from – Retirement ‘legislation’ or SS ‘legislation’ or Obamacare ‘legislation – the Klownposse in DC must never, ever be exempt – So now, everyone in America can work for 4 or 12 years – and get a full ride forever – and everyone in America can have a cadillac healthcare plan. Right?!?.
    6) Push for a 29th Amendment – all legislation must be a single bill with no earmarks, pork, and payback/bribes. No 3AM amendments and must be posted in newspaper, on CSPAN and the InterNet (believe it or not – not everyone has a tv or computer) for 72 hours before it brought to a vote and the corollary of #5 & # 6 – Every single Federal Budget must be voted on by every single Crapweasel in Congress, posted for 72 hours and Balanced. Or that session of Congress does no other business until the Budget is passed.
    7) Just for grins and to make a point about the last 26B idiot Union payback scam passed after Congress adjourned for Aug recess – 30th Amendment No bill shall go to the floor nor be voted on that has No Title, blank Sections/Articles/Parts etc and is not posted for 72 hours or such legislation shall be declared by We The People null and void Immediately and not Signed in Law nor Enacted.

    Oh heck that is just too much paperwork and too damn slow – not to mention that these elected elitist power mad money grubbing liars would never ever write much less vote on this stuff without a zillion loopholes.

    Impeach, Recall, Remove ‘Em All – Declare the 2008 Election a complete fraud upon America – hit reset and Restore America.

  2. heykev says:

    “If Mr. Cohee graduated from Harvard, how could he be guilty of any wrong doing?”

    I am convinced that a Harvard Law degree is a license to commit crimes. Who else can get this kind of treatment (aside from Hollywood celebrities) when breaking the law and still keep their job. Most of us serfs would do some jail time and as a consequence of our actions, lose our jobs.

    It seems Harvard grads, not only get a “get out of jail free card” upon graduation but also can use it as a way to get an even better job or more perks at their job.

    • proreason says:

      An Ivy League degree appears to be equivalent to the training hard-core convicts receive in prison.

      They go in as small time crooks and emerge as master criminals.

  3. Right of the People says:

    Today’s Harvard is not the Harvard of our parents generation. Today’s Harvard is only worried about diversity and making sure the regents soothe their social consciences by admitting people of color with a few token whites thrown in. The rest of the Ivy League is almost as bad. Their academic standards have fallen to the level of an average state school and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future they do away with grades completely.

    The only thing they teach now at these schools is snobbery and elitism.

    November can’t get here soon enough. I feel like strangling me a liberal. Want to join me?

    • Petronius says:

      “Want to join me?”

      Would love to ROP, but unfortunately I’m frightfully busy.

      You see, I’ve accepted the post as professor of diversity studies at Columbia University, and I’m fully committed to organizing the department’s Islamic community outreach programs.

      Perhaps I can free up my calendar after the feast of the goats.

« Front Page | To Top
« | »