WASHINGTON (TheStreet) — Looking at the list of congressional candidates who will be key negotiators for a sweeping financial reform bill, one has to wonder: Why haven't there been as many changes to government leadership as there have been to bank leadership since the financial crisis erupted?
And, perhaps just as importantly, will there be after the fall elections?
Twenty-five nominees from the House and Senate have been named or floated, and several on the list would give any rational person pause.
Let's start with Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), a longtime member of the House Financial Services Committee, who apparently doesn't know the difference between the Federal Reserve's benchmark interest rate target and the discount rate that banks use to lend to one another. There are so many absurd Waters moments, it's hard to choose the best.
There was the time she questioned bank executives about mysterious "fees" and was eventually told to "calm down" by a fellow lawmaker. (Ken Lewis, then-CEO of Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC) told Waters bluntly, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Then there was the time she threatened to nationalize the oil industry
unless it lowered gasoline prices for consumers.
"Guess what this liberal would be all about?" she tells the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell. "This liberal would be all about socializing, ah, um ... would be all about basically, taking over and the government running all of your companies."
But maybe the best moment in Waters history may have less to do with her incomprehensible rambling than with an exposé in The Wall Street Journal last year. The congresswoman had been using her leverage in Washington to secure meetings with Treasury officials for a bank that she had a special interest in, called OneUnited. She publicly criticized OneUnited's regulators and cited strengths of its management, according to the Journal. But she was less public about her ownership stake in the bank and her husband's role as a director.
Another selection by Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.) — we'll get to him in a moment — was Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.), who helped his daughter secure a $155,000 condo in a ritzy Chicago neighborhood using an affordable housing program, according to the Chicago Sun Times. That's despite the fact that she and her husband were earning over $93,000 a year, far more than the income bracket of participants in such assistance programs. His daughter, Omaira Figueroa, sold the condo a year later, netting almost $85,000 on the deal.