Amanda Becker reports in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call today that outside groups spent $3.6 million to sponsor foreign trips for members of Congress and their staffs in 2012. The article includes my comments:
"Congressmen are frequently accused of living inside a bubble. So you can make a good case that members should be traveling and getting to see certain things overseas," Boehm said.
"But all too often they have been arranged by groups that have very pronounced legislative interests," he added. "And what's more enticing than having the possibility of talking [to lawmakers] in a relaxed, vacation resort-type setting?"
ShoreBank’s capital deficiency worsened in the second quarter, according to newly submitted financial results to regulators, and the Chicago-based lender now needs to raise at least $190 million just to meet targets set out in March by state and U.S. banking regulators….
The deadline for ShoreBank to come up with sufficient outside capital has been extended again, with the Federal Reserve saying more than $150 million from the likes of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and $75 million in TARP money aren’t enough to save the politically-connected community lender. Crain’s Chicago Business reports it’s the third extension the Wall Street firms have granted to enable ShoreBank to get its act together, with the new deadline August 6.
Last week the Chicago Tribunereported that Illinois Finance Authority chairman Bill Brandt threatened “a firestorm” in the Windy City if the Federal Reserve did not follow through with a bailout of South Side-based ShoreBank. This followed some reported pressure applied by the Obama Administration on companies like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, GE Capital, Bank of America, and Chase, who were asked to kick in $20 million each to make politically-backed community lender appear eligible to receive TARP funds.
Turns out the preference for Chicago-type coercion goes right to the top (and the origins) of the troubled bank itself.
Illinois Republican Rep. Judy Biggert on Wednesday inserted into the financial regulatory reform bill an amendment calling for an investigation of efforts to rescue ShoreBank. Meanwhile the White House issued denials that it pushed for a bailout of the politically-favored community lender. The Chicago Sun-Timesreported yesterday:
As Chicago's ShoreBank struggles to survive, the Obama White House issued a strong statement Wednesday denying that it is interfering in any way with federal regulators or influencing financial institutions willing to pump money into the bank.
The bailout of Chicago-based ShoreBank has hit a serious snag as the Federal Reserve and Treasury drag their feet on whether to provide funding to the ailing South Side lender, sources close to the situation say….
The Treasury is deferring to the Federal Reserve. One source said some at the Fed want ShoreBank to raise more private dollars before it gets government money.
Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama must feel like he’s experiencing déjà vu all over again.
The Ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee last month asked the Obama Administration to explain its role in the bailout of Chicago-based ShoreBank, a lending institution favored by the community organizing and green job creating crowds. Hundreds of similar-sized others were allowed to fail, but several “too big to fail” banks (who survived thanks to TARP money) were reportedly pressured into a joint effort to rescue ShoreBank. Bachus sent the president a letter, then issued a press release:
Robert Rubin’s obstinate performance yesterday on Capitol Hill is sure to fuel popular disgust with the bank bailouts. Rubin appeared to be what he is, someone who has walked away with so much money that he doesn’t have to answer to anyone. When he was responsive, Rubin tried to claim that he had nothing to do with Citigroup’s meltdown. He also tried to make it complicated, which it is not.
All you have to do is read pages 145 and 146 of Charlie Gasparino’s book, titled The Sellout, for a concise account of Rubin’s role in leveraging up Citigroup. Rubin not only pushed for more risk-taking at Citigroup’s executive and board levels, but he also “was making the rounds of the various departments and talking to people about taking more risk.”
At first, I thought it was satire. Client #9 is scheduled to be a “keynote” speaker at something called the CRO Summit in Boston on April 21. CRO stands for Corporate Responsibility Officer. Yes, major corporations actually have such a position. The organizers’ apparent lack of self-consciousness about Spitzer confirms our view that the so-called Corporate Social Responsibility movement isn’t about responsibility at all. Instead, it is about advancing a set of political positions.
And what better place for such a politically correct event than in a seat of privilege like the Harvard Club. Spitzer, son of a real estate magnate and a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, should be right at home. To be fair, the Harvard Club is an alumni club and has no formal connection to the college. The CRO Summit organizers, a for-profit called SharedXpertise, are just renting the Club. Still, the imagery is too much!
The admonishment last week of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) was based in part on photos, audio recordings and other materials that I provided the Ethics Committee from the 2008 St. Maarten junket. Rangel still claims, however, that he did not know of the corporate involvement. I went back today and found this photo. I did not provide it to the Ethics Committee because I never imagined that Rangel would make such a claim. This photo is more proof that Rangel’s protestation of ignorance is simply not plausible.
Here’s another photo that shows the gentleman above in the blue jacket is Rangel. In both photos, to his right is former New York mayor David Dinkins. To his left is Carl McCall, the former Comptroller New York state.