My representative in the United States House of Representatives is a 65-year-old woman named Ginny Brown-Waite. Whenever I sign one of those petitions asking Congress to vote for pro-environmental legislation or some other “good cause,” I get an email from this woman explaining at length why she is against it and why I should be, too. Naturally, when I get a chance to vote, I fill in the blank next to her opponent’s name, whoever he or she might be. But Ginny Brown-Waite is always re-elected. She is a Republican, and in the part of Florida where I live just about everybody votes Republican. After all, they might tell you, they’re decent, church-going citizens – not baby killers!
A Roman Catholic, Brown-Waite (photo at right) is certainly no baby killer. She has a lifetime rating of 90 percent from the American Conservative Union and zero percent from NARAL (formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League). And when it comes to defending religion, she does not flinch. She has a zero percent rating on the separation of church and state in America. She even voted for an amendment that protects religious discrimination in hiring.
Brown-Waite is less enthusiastic about civil rights. The NAACP gives her a score of only 17 percent on affirmative action. She voted yes on a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage. And she voted yes on making the infamous Patriot Act permanent. An ardent opponent of gun control, she proudly carries a gun when she is home in Hernando County.
Brown-Waite supports the death penalty on religious grounds. Apparently, the word came directly from God. She says she saw “a message” in a nosebleed suffered by death row inmate Allen Lee Davis during his execution on July 8, 1999. The blood was in the shape of a cross, she said, so she figures God was blessing the execution.
In view of her track record, you can imagine my surprise when I learned from a service called Truthout that this religious woman was involved in some shady stock trading. I knew that police had caught her husband, former New York state trooper Harvey Waite, stealing her opponent’s lawn signs when she ran against state Senator Karen Thurman back in 2002, but that was just politics. This is greed.
Truthout sent me an article from The Cleveland Plain Dealer exposing members of Congress who eagerly traded bank stocks while overseeing the recent multi-billion-dollar bank bailout. The day before the House passed the bailout, “Brown-Waite grabbed up Citigroup stock,” the article charges. (You can read the story at www.truthout.org/062809Y?n )
According to the newspaper:
Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, members of the House Financial Services Committee, or brokers on their behalf, were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup – some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows….
For example, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill.
Eleven days later, she bought $1,001 to $15,000 worth of Bank of America stock. It was on the same day that then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told leading banks that he expected them to accept billions in bailout money to prevent a financial meltdown.
Brown-Waite, who has since left the committee to join the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and her spokeswoman would not comment for this article. The precise value of her investments is not publicly known because financial disclosure reports provide only broad ranges, although some members include detailed brokerage reports.
I sent the Plain Dealer article to the editor of the local newspaper, but have not received a reply. My guess is that he isn’t planning to follow up. But even if he does, you can bet your last dollar that Brown-Waite will be re-elected if she runs again. In these parts, greed is OK. “Baby killing” is not.