Photoshop credit: Commenter jeffjackie
Your guide to sleazy Democratic Party-backed banks
by Michelle Malkin
Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod and his hatchet people are still yammering about GOP presidential rival Mitt Romney’s overseas investments. It’s time for the Romney campaign to educate voters about all the shady financial institutions embraced by Democrats right here on American soil.
The fat-cat narrative attacks on Republicans won’t go away by making nice with the White House — or by relying on Beltway journalists to drop their double standards and vet the president’s own bad bank entanglements. Indeed, The New York Times admitted this week that their staff and other political journalists from every major media outlet submit their work to the White House for unprecedented review, editing and “veto power.”
Fortunately, the truth manipulators and message massagers haven’t gotten to this column yet. So, let’s talk sleazy Democratic Party-backed banks, shall we?
Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Forget Switzerland. The mother and father of all financial industry outrages are rooted in Washington, D.C. And Obama Democrats are among the biggest winners of lavish, out-of-control compensation packages from fraud-plagued Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama confidante James Johnson raked in $21 million. Former Obama chief of staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel “earned” at least $320,000 for a brief 14-month gig at Freddie Mac. And Clinton Fannie Mae head and Obama economic confidante Franklin Raines bagged some $90 million in pay and stock options earned during the government-sponsored institution’s Enron-style accounting scandal on the public dime.
Self-appointed banking policewoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has, uncharacteristically, kept her mouth shut about these wealthy barons.
Superior Bank. One of the Obamas’ oldest Chicago friends and wealthiest billionaire bundlers, former Obama national finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker, headed up this subprime lender. Even after it went under in 2001 and left 1,400 customers destitute, Pritzker was pushing to expand its toxic subprime loan business. Pritzker and her family escaped accountability by forking over $460 million over 15 years. Obama happily accepted the nearly $800 million in campaign and inaugural funding Pritzker drummed up for him. To protect her family’s multibillion dollar fortune, Pritzker’s enterprises park their money in the very same kind of offshore trusts her candidate is attacking Romney over.
Broadway Bank. In 2010, President and Mrs. Obama personally raised money for their Chicago friend and fundraiser Alexi Giannoulias, who ran unsuccessfully for Obama’s old Illinois Senate seat. As I reported then, Giannoulias’ Greek immigrant family founded Chicago-based Broadway Bank, a now-defunct financial institution that loaned tens of millions of dollars to convicted mafia felons and faced bankruptcy after decades of engaging in risky, high-flying behavior. It’s the place where Obama parked his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign funds. And it’s the same place where a mutual friend of Obama and Giannoulias — convicted Obama fundraiser and slumlord Tony Rezko — used to bounce nearly $500,000 in bad checks written to Las Vegas casinos.
Chicago’s former inspector general blasted Giannoulias and his family for tapping $70 million worth of dividends in 2007 and 2008 as the real estate crash loomed. Broadway Bank was sitting on an estimated $250 million in bad loans. The cost to taxpayers after the bank was shut down two years ago: an estimated $390 million.
ShoreBank. The “progressive” Chicago-based community development bank, a “green” financial institution whose mission was to “create economic equity and a healthy environment,” folded in August 2010. Obama personally had endorsed the politically connected bank and appeared in a video promoting its Kenyan microlending project. But it was a doomed social justice experiment. After regulators shut it down, Obama crony companies including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs took over the mess courtesy of taxpayer subsidies.
Countrywide/Bank of America. Earlier this month, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a report on corruption-plagued Countrywide Financial Corp., which was bailed out by taxpayer-bailed-out Bank of America. The House investigation confirmed the notorious favor-trading scheme, which involved sweetheart home loan deals for members of Congress and their staff, top government officials and executives of doomed mortgage giant Fannie Mae.
“These relationships helped (Countrywide CEO and Democratic subprime loan king Angelo) Mozilo increase his own company’s profits while dumping the risk of bad loans on taxpayers,” according to the new report. Mozilo copped a $67.5 million plea to avert a high-stakes public trial in the heat of the 2010 midterm election season. Since then, Obama’s Justice Department has taken no action to prosecute Countrywide officials on federal bribery charges.
Among the influence-peddling operation’s most prominent beneficiaries: the aforementioned Obama top adviser Jim Johnson, who accepted more than $7 million in below-market-rate Countrywide loans, and former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, whose ill-fated 2010 re-election bid was personally endorsed by Obama. Obama stood by Dodd even as sordid details of his two discounted Countrywide loans and record Countrywide PAC donations mounted.
Bank of Democratic America, which raked in $45 billion in Obama-supported TARP bailout funds and billions more in secret emergency federal loans, footed the $50 million restitution payment bill for Mozilo and another Countrywide official. In 2008, BofA’s political action committee gave its biggest contributions to Obama, totaling $421,000. And as I noted in January, Bank of America supplied the Democrats with a $15 million revolving line of credit, along with an additional $17 million loan during the 2010 midterms.
Embarrassed by the party’s ties to shady Bank of America, progressives are now trying to rebrand the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., where Obama will give his nomination acceptance address. They’re referring to it as “Panthers Stadium” instead.
Obama’s copious crooked friends and funders are going to need a lot more whitewash than that to cover up their ill-gotten gains.
Addendum: And, of course, there’s OneUnited, the minority-owned bank in Los Angeles and Boston at the center of the long-delayed ethics trial of Democrat crony of color Maxine Waters.
OneUnited received $12 million in TARP money under smelly circumstances. The banks’ executives donated $12,500 to her congressional campaigns. Her husband, Sidney Williams, was an investor in one of the banks that merged into One United. The WSJ reported on their handsome profits:
“Congressional financial-disclosure forms show Ms. Waters acquired OneUnited stock worth between $250,000 and $500,000 in March 2004, as did Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams joined the board of OneUnited that year. Each sold shares in September 2004 — including Ms. Waters’s entire stake — but Mr. Williams continued to hold varying amount of the company’s stock. In the lawmaker’s most recent financial-disclosure form, dated May 2008 and covering the prior year, Ms. Waters reported that her husband held between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of the bank’s stock. Mr. Williams also received interest payments from a separate holding at the bank, also worth between $250,000 and $500,000. The 2008 form doesn’t specify what that is. Mr. Williams stepped down from the bank’s board last spring. It couldn’t be learned whether he still owns stock in the bank. Mr. Williams didn’t return calls seeking comment.”
Waters (along with Rep. Frank) participated directly in pressuring the feds for OneUnited’s piece of the bailout pie. She personally contacted the Treasury Department last December requesting $50 million for the company– and failed to disclose her ties to the bank to them. The government ended up coughing up $12 million in TARP funding for OneUnited — despite another government agency rapping the bank in October 2008 for “operating without effective underwriting standards and practices,” “operating without an effective loan documentation program” and “engaging in speculative investment practices.”
The favored bank of Maxine Waters was also penalized for alleged excessive executive compensation. The FDIC ordered the bank to “sell all bank-owned automobiles,” require reimbursement for executives’ car purchases (according to the Boston Business Journal, OneUnited CEO Kevin Cohee was cruising around in a 2008 Porsche SUV), and cease payments on a $6 million Santa Monica beachfront home purchased by Cohee, his wife who served as bank president, and others.
In August 2010, the House Ethics Committee filed three charges against Waters for using her influence to gain special favors for OneUnited, which sought a stealth government bailout after squandering nearly $52 million of its bank capital on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac preferred stock. After the federal bailout of those troubled financial behemoths, OneUnited’s securities in the government-sponsored enterprises plunged to a value estimated at less than $5 million. OneUnited initially demanded $41 million from the feds in exchange for unloading the junk stock. Thebank was already in dire straits before the feds put Fannie/Freddie into receivership for its unsound lending practices and lavish executive benefits.
Only through Rep. Waters’ direct intervention was OneUnited Bank able to secure an emergency meeting with Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Treasury, according to the ethics probe. The Treasury Department said so itself. At the confab, Waters’ pals purported to represent the 130-member “National Bankers Association.” But records obtained by congressional investigators show that OneUnited Bank’s legal counsel, vice president and president (the latter two are married to each other) spearheaded the meeting, directed its agenda, and drafted the talking points/briefing material for Rep. Waters at her request — so that she could “speak intelligently” about their demands.
In her defense, Rep. Waters pooh-poohs the OneUnited Bank rescue as a pittance compared to the rest of the monstrous TARP bailout. She’d have a teensy more credibility on the fiscal responsibility front if she had opposed TARP from the start, instead of playing an instrumental role in throwing the Congressional Black Caucus’s full support behind it.